NC: You do not have to place your absentee ballot in the mail. You can drop it off at your county’s Board of Elections or at an early voting site. If you are mailing your ballot, it is recommended you do it by at least October 27 @wsoctv
You can request an absentee ballot now. Ballots start rolling out September 4. More info: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting
If you are nervous about having to isolate or quarantine during the early voting period or on Election Day, to be safe you can always request an absentee ballot. Once you get it, you don't have to use it.
So for example, personally I am planning to vote in person, but I am going to request an absentee ballot just in case. Because knowing my luck I will have to quarantine during what always ends up being the busiest few weeks of my career