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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

Edited on November 3, 2021

Union County Public Health provides education, services and outreach to all residents and community partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For specific questions related to COVID-19 and your personal health, please consult with your primary care doctor. Each section of this webpage will be updated as more information becomes available.  

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School Guidance | UC Dashboard | Testing | Prevention | Resources | FAQs  | COVID-19 Vaccines
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School Guidance

Union County Public Health has consistently provided Union County Public School administration with COVID-19 data trends, information on disease control measures, case investigation support, and information consistent with NC DHHS & NC DPI guidance for schools. Click here to view the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit with guidance for K-12 public schools across the state.

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Click to view UCPH and UCPS Memorandum of Understanding dated Sept. 29, 2021.

UCPS Positive Case Notification Process

Memorandum of Understanding. Union County Public Health and Union County Public Schools agreed on a process on Sept. 29, 2021 for identifying and excluding students and staff who are identified as being a positive case or a close contact of  someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The process shares the responsibility of providing information sufficient for Public Health to do the important task of providing isolation and quarantine measures to students and staff to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and the community.

The memorandum of understanding, signed by the Union County Manager and the Superintendent of UCPS, outlines the shared responsibilities for identifying and protecting students and staff affected by COVID-19 in the schools while complying with the control measures mandated by the State.

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Interactive Map and Dashboard

Union County has developed the below interactive map and dashboard showing COVID-19 data. Click here to view the dashboard in a separate browser tab. Most of the data is automatically pulled from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Dashboard. Data input by Union County Public Health is updated weekly on Fridays at approximately 5:00 p.m.

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Public Health strongly encourages anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested. If you have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more cumulatively over a 24 hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19, you are also encouraged to be tested.

Use NCDHHS's interactive tool to find a local COVID-19 test site.
There are now more than 300 places across North Carolina to be tested.

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Most people who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and will make a full recovery. There are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Health officials advise taking these steps to prevent the spread of the common cold and flu will also help prevent COVID-19.

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms, call your doctor’s office. 

Click here to learn about vaccines.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Union County Local Information

What are my options if I want to be tested for COVID-19?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider for evaluation and guidance or schedule a COVID-19 test. Please do not arrive at a healthcare facility without calling first to seek guidance on preventative measures upon arrival to prevent the potential spread of the virus. People who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

What happens after an individual in Union County tests positive for COVID-19?

  • An individual whose illness resulted in a positive test for COVID-19 will be contacted by Union County Public Health. The Public Health department will issue guidance requiring the individual to self-isolate. The individual will receive detailed instructions on what they can and can’t do. If you test positive, you need to self-quarantine/isolate for 10 days, even if you do not have symptoms. Distance yourself from family members at home as much as possible. Only leave for urgent/emergency medical care. A negative test prior to the end of the 10 day isolation period does not shorten the isolation requirement. At the end of the 10 days, you may return to normal activities as long as you do not have a fever or worsening of respiratory symptoms.

How can I help?

There are several community organizations in need. Visit the UC CARES web page and see the section for “Give Help.”

Are court schedules at the Union County Judicial Center postponed or impacted?


Please call the Clerk of Court’s office at 704-698-3100 or visit their website for information.

Where can I receive help with meals and supplies?

Visit the UC CARES web page and see the section for “Get Help.”

Who has the authority in Union County to issue countywide public health mandates?

In Union County, there are primarily two sources of public health mandates. The first is the Public Health Director, who can issue isolation or quarantine orders. The second is the Consolidated Human Services Board, which can issue public health rules such as mask mandates.

How is requiring masks in school different from a countywide mask mandate?

Union County doesn’t have a county-wide mask mandate, however it is recommended in public indoor settings. Adults can make choices to limit their movements throughout the county. They can choose not to go to restaurants, stores, etc. All adults have had the opportunity to receive a vaccine since the Spring. On the other hand, we want our kids learning in classrooms, which are indoor, state-mandated, in-person gatherings which can pose a high risk of serious illness for some teachers and staff who are older, or for anyone who might have immunocompromising conditions. And, many students are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to their age. Those factors make it a high-risk environment for the spread of any communicable disease and particularly the Delta variant of COVID we are battling right now.

How It Spreads

Learn what is known about the spread of COVID-19.

What is community spread?

Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

How does it spread and what can I do to prevent it from spreading?

Coronaviruses like COVID-19 are most often spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, through close personal contact (including touching and shaking hands) or through touching your nose, mouth or eyes before washing your hands. Click here to learn how to protect yourself.

Can you get COVID-19 from touching contaminated objects?

Possibly, if you touch a surface with the virus on it, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes. However, this is not likely to be the main way the virus spreads. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

What are the differences between COVID-19 and the flu?

Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Click here to read more about their differences from the CDC.

Should I wear a face mask to protect me from COVID-19?

The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings or masks, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Click here for CDC guidance on how to select, wear, and clean your mask.

How to Protect Yourself

Is hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?

Health officials believe hand sanitizer is effective to prevent COVID-19, if used properly. The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

What cleaning products should I use to prevent the spread of COVID-19? What should be cleaned?

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas, such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, tables, desks, toilets, sinks, hard-back chairs. First, clean dirty surfaces with detergent or soap and water. Disinfect surfaces with a diluted household bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water), alcohol solutions of 70%+ alcohol or EPA-registered household disinfectants. Use gloves or wash hands thoroughly after cleaning. 

Who is physical distancing recommended for?

Physical distancing or maintaining a minimum distance of 6 feet away from other people who are not from your household is recommended in both indoor and outdoor spaces. Physical distancing should be practiced in combination with other preventative actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask over your mouth and nose, avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

How does physical distancing help?

According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) for a prolonged period. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. Studies indicate people who are infected, but do not have symptoms, also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. Because people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay at least six feet away from others when possible, even if you – or they – do not have any symptoms. Physical distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

These are protective measures used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who may have been exposed.

Quarantine is for people who were exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 but are not experiencing symptoms. Contact your doctor if you are unsure if you should self-quarantine.

Isolation separates people who are sick from those who are well.

Should I wear a mask?

The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, like on public and mass transportation, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings or masks, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus. Click here for CDC guidance on how to select, wear, and clean your mask.

Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19?

Older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. Read the CDC’s information for people at increased risk and other people who need to take extra precautions.

Why are COVID-19 vaccinations important and why healthy individuals get it?

COVID-19 vaccinations are safe, effective, and have been fully approved by the FDA for people age 16 and older. Vaccinations are the best protection we have against COVID-19 and our best chance to stop spread and end the pandemic for everyone.

Is natural immunity more effective than vaccine immunity?

Several recent (post-delta variant) scientifically-designed and peer-reviewed studies indicate that vaccination-induced immunity is approximately twice as effective as natural immunity. (An earlier publication that concluded that natural immunity is superior has not been peer-reviewed). (As of Sept. 17, 2021)

Symptoms & Testing

What are the symptoms?

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When do symptoms appear?

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.

What should I do if I am showing any of these symptoms?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms, contact your primary care provider for evaluation or schedule a COVID-19 test. If you are sick with COVID-19, or think you might have COVID-19, follow these steps.

What should I do if I had close contact with someone who has COVID-19?

If you have had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more cumulatively over a 24 hour period) with someone with confirmed COVID-19, you should begin quarantine at the same time and continue for 14 days after the last contact with the positive person, unless you are fully vaccinated. Click here for detailed quarantine guidance. People who are fully vaccinated do NOT need to quarantine after contact with someone who had COVID-19 unless they have symptoms. However, fully vaccinated people should get tested 3-5 days after their exposure, even if they do not have symptoms and wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until their test result is negative. 

Can COVID-19 be spread before someone has symptoms?

COVID-19 can be spread by an infected individual before they have symptoms, or by an infected individual who does not have symptoms. 

What treatments are available?

Most people with illnesses due to COVID-19 recover on their own. People have been seriously harmed and even died after taking products not approved for COVID-19, even products approved or prescribed for other uses. For people who become severely ill, hospitals can provide care. Click here for more information from the CDC.

How can I be tested for COVID-19?

It has never been easier or faster to get tested for COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, you should get tested. Click here to search for a testing location near you.

What if I haven’t had a COVID-19 test and don’t plan on getting a test but I have symptoms?

If your symptoms are mild, you can ride out your illness while isolating at home from others.

Are COVID tests effective?

PCR tests are extremely accurate tests of actual COVID-19 DNA. PCR technology has been used in tests of other types of viruses for decades. PCR is the gold standard for COVID-19 tests, with a turnaround time of 1-3 days. Antigen tests (or rapid test) are fairly accurate, but sometimes have to be confirmed with a PCR test.

Contact Tracing

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing has been used for decades by state and local health departments to slow or stop the spread of infectious diseases. Contact tracing slows the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested
  • Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

Contact tracers will NOT ask you for:

  • Money
  • Social security number
  • Bank account information
  • Salary information
  • Credit card numbers

What will happen with my personal information during contact tracing?

Discussions with health department staff are confidential. This means your personal and medical information will be kept private and only shared with those who may need to know, like your health care provider.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your name will not be shared with those you came in contact with. The health department will only notify people you were in close contact with that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

What if I don’t want to share my information?

Not being truthful or not providing information to Public Health limits Public Health’s ability to keep others safe and prevent further spread of COVID-19 in our community.


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