‘These restrictions will save lives’

By on April 6, 2020

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard

The 9 a.m. April 6 meeting of the Dare County Commissioners reflected just how much has changed in the past few weeks. Four of the seven commissioners, following social distancing guidelines, sat well part on site in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room in Manteo. The three others participated remotely. The meeting was adjourned very quickly.

The remarks below were offered by Commissioners Chair Bob Woodard at the outset of the meeting.

Good morning, these past two weeks have been extremely stressful, to say the least, for all of us with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. I want to thank my fellow Control Group members (the six mayors of the municipalities; Commissioner Couch, who represents Hatteras Island; Sheriff Doug Doughtie: and our National Park Service Superintendent Dave Hallac) for their undivided attention to this pandemic. Tough decisions had to be made by this group to protect our citizens. The group meets daily to deal with this crisis.

I am speaking to you today from the County Commissioners Chambers with several of my fellow commissioners here in person, several via teleconference and a few staff members and we are maintaining our social distance. As we all continue to navigate the tremendous impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, we fully understand the harsh impacts on your personal lives, your job, your businesses and our community. As you know, Dare County remains under a State of Emergency with restrictions in place prohibiting access to Dare County for visitors and non-resident property owners. With a small hospital, a small EMS service and the potential for the visitor and nonresident property owner population to more than quadruple the year round population, we do not have the capacity to care for this volume of people should a substantial Covid-19 outbreak  occur. Similarly, an influx of that volume of people, from all over the country, significantly increases the risk of an outbreak that we are trying hard to avoid. Once again, for those reasons, difficult decisions were made by the Control Group to limit the number of people in Dare County.

Let me be very clear, I will not apologize for these tough decisions. The decision to restrict visitors and non-resident property owners was not made lightly. We truly hope everyone will understand that this difficult decision was made to safeguard our citizens. These restrictions will save lives. Like you, we look forward to the day when things can get back to normal. It cannot be stressed enough that staying home and limiting unnecessary travel is the most effective way to control the spread of this virus.

The only way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is if each citizen, and our businesses in Dare County, accept responsibility for the health of the entire community. I implore you all to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. The few who choose to ignore these restrictions are not only endangering their own lives, but they are risking the lives of their families, coworkers, and neighbors. And, in turn, risking the lives of our first responders and healthcare workers. We need your help to keep people safe. We cannot do this alone!

We appreciate and thank many of you for all that you are doing to help us inform visitors and non-resident property owners about the restrictions and the reasons they are in place.  I know you all are having difficult conversations about the restrictions and the uncertainty of what lies ahead. Thank you.

The Dare County Control Group continues to meet daily to receive updates and to make any decisions necessary to protect the public health and safety of our citizens. It is imperative that we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and again, everyone is asked to refrain from unnecessary travel.

We understand the devastating financial consequences these restrictions are having on our community and your livelihood. It’s not about how bad the spread of COVID-19 is in our community now; it’s about what will happen if we allow the virus to spread. The consequences would be devastating and far reaching, further extending the tremendous economic losses we are already experiencing in our community. The choices we are making now will lessen future economic impacts on our community and increase our chances of thriving as a healthy community.

Amongst all this uncertainty, one thing remains certain, we are all safer at home. Our visitors are safer at their homes. Our non-resident property owners are safer at their home as well.

Thank you all for your understanding and your support of the Board of Commissioners and the Dare County Control Group. Working together, we will overcome these challenges. Please continue to do what is necessary to protect yourself and your family.

In closing, I would like to offer the following:

Fear is a powerful human emotion that can cause us to respond inappropriately or motivate us to take positive actions. Fear can even stop us from turning to the almighty, our rescuer in time of need, who knows every personal and world disruption we will face in our lifetime. His timeless word, the Bible, has all the answers and antidotes to keep us calm, cool, and collected.

He assures us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10)

We want to trust God but there are times when peace eludes us. We’re worried and anxious and I get that. Then God reminds us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Thank you and God Bless!


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Comments

  • Good-bye OBX

    I have never witnessed such a “knee jerk” reaction by a bunch of local politicians without any data to support their decision. The whole issue around the OBX Hospital and the number of beds is a ridiculous excuse to try and sell the NRPOs on the reason for closing the island. If an F5 tornado were to touch down in the heart of KDH in July, how would the OBX hospital react? The hospital is much more prepared to deal with one or two admissions/day for COVID-19 than they are an unexpected natural disaster. Let’s be real here – most serious illnesses/injuries on the OBX end up going to Chesapeake, Elizabeth City, or Norfolk so let’s not get hung up on the number of beds in Dare County. Also, with all of the restaurants, bars, theaters, shops, etc., closed, the risk of passing the virus to other citizens, local or not would be minimal if any at all. I’m not saying the county should open up the island to large house parties or visitors, but if your name and spouses name is on the deed or tax bill, you and anyone else’s name on the deed should be able to obtain access to the property. Not only will this allow property owners time to prepare their home for the rental season (which now will be weeks behind) but they will also help support the local grocery stores, hardware stores, and possibly use the restaurants for pick-up or delivery. You locals that are in favor of this knee jerk decision need to rethink you opinion! It’s not the revenue between the months of Oct and Apr from the locals (transplanted locals) that keep the OBX alive, it’s those of us who have property that allow guests to come down and spend thousands a week between Apr and Oct each year that keep businesses open and you transplants employed. When businesses don’t reopen (which many won’t) and the transplants are forced to go elsewhere to try and find employment, there is no one to blame except the local officials. The local economy on the OBX will have no impact on my property or financial stability as I only rent it several weeks/yr and use it for personal use a good part of the fall, winter, and spring. So for those of that agree with the local official’s decision – GOOD BYE, see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya! As the old saying goes, “don’t slap the hands that feed you” and the local officials definitely slapped the wrong hands!

    Thursday, Apr 16 @ 2:06 pm