RALEIGH — Facebook is stepping up its efforts to deal with the  growing coronavirus crisis.

Today, the tech giant announced the expansion of its Local Alerts tool to state and local health departments, including in North Carolina, to get COVID-19 information to citizens when they need it most.

Facebook Local Alerts is a tool that state and local governments, law enforcement, and now public health agencies can utilize to communicate important information quickly to their communities. It has been used to communicate everything from weather advisories, to road closures, to missing persons and community safety threats — and now the latest information related to the coronavirus.

“Government health agencies should be the source of truth for the American public on COVID-19 information,” said Steven Allison, a spokesperson for Facebook.

When these agencies mark posts as “Local Alerts,” people living within that geographical area will receive push notifications alerting them to the post, greatly extending the reach.

“As health agencies in North Carolina add this feature to their communications toolkits, Facebook will be providing training and resources to these agencies so they can get up and running,” he said.