Citing negativity, DHHS cancels Safer Spot program

By on April 6, 2021

The Dare County Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on April 6 that it is discontinuing its OBX Safer Spot program that was designed to recognize establishments and organizations with at least 70% of their employees vaccinated against COVID and to send a reassuring message to their potential clients and customers.

“We have decided not to continue the Safer Spot Campaign.” DHHS Communications Special Kelly Nettnin emailed in response to a Voice query. “Some individuals have used this initiative as an opportunity to spread fear, negativity and hate.  Our businesses work too hard to endure unfounded criticism. We appreciate all the business community is doing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Dare County.”

When DHHS introduced the initiative that it unveiled in conjunction with the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce last week, DHHS Director Sheila Davies noted that, “we feel that any establishment with at least 70% of employees vaccinated is, in fact, a Safer Spot.” Chamber of Commerce President Karen Brown added that, “We hope establishments will want to be a part of this campaign, as not only will it make patrons more comfortable, but it can also help employees feel safer.”

But an angry backlash to the idea developed quickly on social media, with anti-vaccination forces, and perhaps others, threatening, among other things, not to patronize businesses that displayed the OBX Safer Spot window sticker for reaching the 70% vaccination goal. One social media post, typical of that sentiment, had a red nullification sign scrawled over a story announcing the program.


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  • Thinking About the Future

    Couldn’t agree more with others who’ve written urging the DHHS and Chamber of Commerce to think again and not back away from following through with this very good program. There are many more who believe in the power of science and vaccinations who will be relieved to see the OBX Safe Spot designation. Please reconsider and remember that the power of “social media” is only as much as we let it be.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 7:19 am
  • sandflea

    Ok, I absolutely have to respond to Nonie’s post;
    There is no “business against business” program here. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. It appears you don’t know much about HIPPA. If the employee’s give their consent, its ok to put their information out to where they say its ok to. Getting a vaccination is not a “medical condition”.
    This is my opinion, but I really don’t think you have much of a grasp of the Constitution and your “rights”. Did Q tell you about your so called “rights”?
    The people are speaking out. The vast majority are getting vaccinated or are trying and planning on getting vaccinated.
    A few business owners stood up for their “rights”. Again, nobody was forcing anybody to do anything. Maybe the business owners who didn’t want to have a program such as this knew that they were on the wrong side of public opinion and didn’t want to appear to possibly looking like fools to the general public.
    I have a strong feeling that you really don’t know what the definition of “socialism” is. Even America is a socialistic country, Society pays for roads, schools, police, fire, EMS, military, etc.
    Equating torturing and slaughtering a race of people in an attempt to genocide them to posting if people in a business is a bit of a reach.
    Yes, I do think you are a conspiracy theorist and are in fact quite “out there”. Also, since I don’t think you know what socialism is; I really don’t think you have any idea as to what communism is.
    The “muzzle on my face” is known as a mask. It prevents water droplets that carry the virus that are exhaled from being airborne and inhaled by someone else who can become infected. You can still talk and be heard and you can even breathe with no loss of oxygen while wearing them.
    A very brief history of our forefathers: Most were atheists and most owned slaves.
    “The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellam”.
    My opinion is that you need to find a new “news” channel and some new websites to find your information.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 8:35 am
  • crymeariver

    Thanks for deleting my post Mark. Let me just simplify my remarks.

    This program will only do harm to businesses who are not a part of it. It will tell tourists where they should eat, inflicting more loss on other businesses simply because they are not at 70% vaccination. The businesses can not force their employees to get the vaccine, so if the employees elect not to, then the county marks them as “unsafe”. Businesses are already having to cut back on menu options, days of operation, and hours, all of which cuts into their profits. Now the County is telling people to patronize the businesses that are getting the shots. It is way out of line and a terrible idea. Just because the restaurant has 70% vaccination doesn’t mean that you wont get covid-19 there. It also doesn’t mean you wont get a food borne illness their either.

    Vaccinations and all medical records are private information under HIPPA laws and it’s wrong for the county to pander on this private information.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 8:37 am
  • LongTimeNativeBorn&Raised

    @Mark Jurkowitz….. in regards to your reply to Nonie: Then why are my comments being deleted? My comment included none of the points highlighted in your response to that person. I am a life long local and business owner. I feel my opinion is a valid one. Coincidentally, it simply doesn’t fit the mold of the commenters currently allowed to post on this article.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 9:39 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    You can try again, and if it gets deleted, I’ll give you an explanation.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 1:35 pm
  • Bob

    How is it safer? Everything I hear says we must keep wearing our masks since there is no indication or proof that vaccinated people can’t still get it and pass it on.

    And then you create angst between employers and employees when you have someone that isn’t comfortable getting the vaccine, yet the employer wants the sign on the door. I’m not an “anti-vaxxer”, but I can certainly understand someone’s hesitancy about getting a vaccine that hasn’t been around all that long. I think with time that will change, but pushing people into a corner is only going to make them less interested in getting vaccinated.

    And how about the small business with three employees, one of which can’t get it due to past vaccine reactions, etc…now they don’t qualify, through no fault of their own.

    I don’t see where this has anything to do with safer spots, but mostly about pressuring people to get vaccinated…and we’re not yet even to the point that everyone who actually wants one can get it!

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 10:07 am
  • Rick L

    I’m curious if those who oppose a government sticker would support a business’s right to choose to share their vaccination information with consumers by posting it?

    Information lets consumers make a choice which makes the free market more efficient, right?

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 11:03 am
  • surf123

    This program was so poorly thought out that the person(s) who came up with it need to seek other employment. Crapping on those who you are supposed to support while acting as a do-gooder helps no one. Additionally the 70% number is arbitrary and there is no way to prove it without violating HIPAA laws. A business could say everyone has it or that they meet the 70% rule, however the Chamber could not ask for verification as the cards are protected medical information. My example of a restaurant with a staff of 30 that meets the 70% requirement could have 9 members of the waitstaff who have not been vaccinated. Is that a safer or deadlier spot?

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 11:35 am
  • David

    I was excited to see the decal program, especially since my wife and I will be fully vaccinated in 10 days and are ready to go out to eat. We saw Top Dog Cafe and Waverunners coffee and deli on the early list. We even emailed The Outer Banks Brewing company to see I f they would be getting the decal soon. They heard about it and were sure they would qualify. What ashame you are cancelling such a good idea. I had posted the Safe Spot News on OBX Locals facebook page and the vast majority liked the program. SAD.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 6:51 pm
  • Dethrol

    Thursday, Apr 8 @ 1:48 pm
  • Mark Burbic

    It seems like the majority of folks in this discussion are focusing on restaurants when giving their pros or cons, however it’s the big brand stores by sheer volume of customers , and the smaller traditional souvenir shops that are probably more dangerous.
    The picking up and putting down of items on display, carts, hangers, and any number of surfaces that could be shared are potential virus sites.
    With 70% of employees vaccinated to entice customers to enter your business, why wouldn’t you require customers to meet the same vaccination test to protect your employees, yourself, and other patrons?
    What happens when a member of the 70% workforce at a certain establishment gets the virus? It’s possible! It’s happening all over the country!
    Why not restrict potential customers entry without proof of vaccination to maintain the health of the 70% of employees ?
    There has been a lot of the “us versus them” name calling in the last year when it comes to locals versus non locals . If our own elected officials don’t feel that employee health is as vital has consumer health to the point that the protection isn’t equal, well that’s for each person to decide.
    Equality isn’t just for race or gender discussions. Consistency builds trust.

    Thursday, Apr 8 @ 4:36 pm
  • R Gibson

    I am pretty sure DHHS is using ‘hate and social media backlash’ as an excuse for cancelling this poorly thought out program. How would a business maintain their “Safer Spot” designation (of 70% or more vaccinated employees) without 1) asking a hiring candidate for medical information and 2) refusing to hire someone not vaccinated? I am pretty sure that is against both HIPAA and EEOC regulations. DHHS, why not admit your mistake and move on. And OBX Voice…stop stoking the fire!

    Friday, Apr 9 @ 9:38 am