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.


  • Andy

    Really sorry to hear this program was cancelled. In order to get through this pandemic sooner rather than later WE need to work together to limit spread of Covid 19. Vaccinations are part of the solution. I realize there are some people who will not get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, including political considerations. I hope DHHS and Chamber of Commerce will reconsider implementing this program. Earlier today I heard Tom Petty’s song “Don’t Back Down”. Words to consider in today’s environment.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 3:22 pm
  • Lemonshirt

    might as well take down the sanitation grade signs too. Let the buyer beware.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 3:24 pm
  • Travis

    Next up: let’s get rid of those pesky sanitation grades conspicuously posted in restaurants. And those silly instructions for employees to wash their hands. Oh, and for sure the “No Smoking” signs have got to go. No half measures when it comes to our freedom. Even if it kills us, by golly, at least we died of our own free will, standing tall. ‘Murica.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 4:08 pm
  • Martha Fletcher

    So, people like to see the little sign that shows how clean a business is from thier last inspection. It’s a point of pride for a business when they score well. Giving a business a certificate that gives that same business a score on thier COVID safety is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT. What is the heck is wrong with anti-vaccination people and why do we listen to them? I for one would be more comfortable patronizing a business that took the health of it’s customers and employees as a top priority.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 4:42 pm
  • Sandy

    All it took was a few Keith’s and Karen’s to make them back down? Guarantee the overwhelming majority of folks are for this initiative, and businesses would gain more customers than they would lose. Why does this committee continue to back down from good things? Are they being paid to change their mind? Follow the science, and don’t be weak. Those few idiots should not control you. How about a poll asking everyone how they feel about safer spot? Pretty sure I know which way its gonna go.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 5:01 pm
  • Rick L

    So disappointed that these wise businesses met with this response. Safety is a pro-business measure during a pandemic. Who’s canceling who now?

    Safety = business = profits.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 5:13 pm
  • Bobby Abernethy

    GREAT idea ! Don’t back down due to some people who don’t believe science. I’d love to see a list of business’s that meet the 70% threshold so I can give them my business.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 5:40 pm
  • Dethrol

    Don’t allow the government to create divisions and slot people into a bunch of categories. Truth is, this was an incredibly bad idea that violated individual privacy rights and meant absolutely nothing. The hysteria absolutely plays into the hands and plans of those who would have this thing go on forever, and ever. How about a similar sticker for the percentage of hepatitis vaccinations. Don’t stop there, we could have a sticker for tuberculosis, rubella, measles, and surely HIV/AIDS, etc. How’s that sound? Terrible, right? Don’t cherry-pick, now.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 6:07 pm
  • Linda Logue

    I agree wait and see if you don’t hear more from people in favor of this. I plan to share the idea in PA

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 6:26 pm
  • Dee

    It was a ridiculous idea in the first place. Glad they decided to stop it. Who really needs the government to tell them where they are safe? Have we gotten that stupid?

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 7:14 pm
  • Thinking About The Future

    Agreed – very unfortunate to back track on this idea of the Safer Spot campaign. I’m a local and was looking forward to this, as I think would many of our visitors. Please think again before backing down to the minority who do not believe in science.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 7:22 pm
  • Czarina

    Dare County has done very well getting people vaccinated. These shameful nay-sayers will not be getting kudos for their selfish beliefs.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 8:25 pm
  • Liz

    I want to know who these businesses are! They will have my full support. I just left florida …their attitudes suck in many places and they flaunt their anti mask distain. Jackasses

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 8:29 pm
  • Bettye H

    I would like to know which businesses are doing best on cleanliness due to fact I have several health problems that make me high risk so it would make me feel better shopping at these places. I have a vaccine shop but not dropping my guard with so many tourists here for Easter week. I did not beat cancer to die of a virus! The quicker we work together to get rid of this mess the quicker we can get normal life back !! I miss my earrings and lipstick!!😎😎This will take a team effort!! For all the people who think big brother is putting trackers in the vaccine you need to look in your hand and that cell you carry they already know who , what ,when where about you if you carry it with you!!!

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 8:40 pm
  • Andy

    Actually, this initiative is an example of government and business working together for the betterment of the OBX community. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has killed more than 550,000 fellow Americans. Many of us appreciate knowing which places are safer than others.

    Perhaps supporters of this initiative should call Dare County Health Department and OBX Chamber of Commerce to urge them to reinstate program. Don’t Back Down.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 8:57 pm
  • Southern Dawn

    @Dethrol I agree. It was a bad idea. I am not a Karen or an anti-vaxxer but I understand why this “sticker” would elicit a negative response. If people feel coerced to take a vaccine to retain employment, we are on a very slippery slope. Everyone needs to be mindful that according to the scientists, fully vaccinated does not mean you are immune from infection nor from transmitting it if you are asymptomatic so the designation of “Safe Spot” is a relative term. Every American wants this pandemic in our rear view mirror and to reach herd immunity, but we need to respect and not judge a person’s right to choose based on their religious views, medical conditions or plans to become pregnant. The vaccines currently authorized for emergency use are contraindicated for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Religious, medical and pregnancy plans are private and should never have to be shared with an employer.

    Tuesday, Apr 6 @ 10:55 pm
  • Cathy Monroe

    I’d like to address all you Christians who are bowing to the vaccination god of this world, JESUS is still our healer! I know I’ve lost many of you right there in that one statement, but for those of you who are still listening don’t think this vaccination has anything to do with your health, go look up Dr.Shiva, an immunologist and the inventor of email a very smart man, do some research don’t be naive and listen to anybody and everybody, you will be led astray and you will be like sheep led to the slaughter.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 5:22 am
  • Sandflea

    Time to take the labels off food packaging.
    The people that are whining and bit**img the most about having to wear masks are the very people slowing down, if not preventing the rest of us from not having to wear masks. Brilliant!
    I say businesses should go ahead and place their own sign on their business saying that they act in a safe and prudent manner . Then, it will probably be ok to these people because it would be a “free market “ kind of thing.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 6:55 am
  • Jack Wyndam

    The cancel culture strikes again. It’s a pandemic, people. Get “woke” already! Vaccinations are an integral piece of the puzzle to rid the planet of this virus. Anything that can promote the treatment should be commended, NOT condemed. Short-sighted foolishness has taken control of the Country. The Health Dept caved-just like big business is caving to a few foolish people. It’s a shame.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 7:16 am
  • Nonie Yanni

    I have been deleted twice now. What kind of VOICE website is this is you just get deleted?

    I am glad to see that they have withdrawn this program! This was a discrimination act putting one business against another business. It is a violation of privacy and many of you should read into the HHS laws on medical privacy. Asking employers, to ask of their employees, to submit medical conditions and vaccinations is absolutely CRAZY. It is no one’s business to know their neighbors or coworker’s decision to be or not to be vaccinated. It is our freedom to keep our private lives just that, PRIVATE!! This is a victory, I see in my eyes, for us freedom fighting Americans, standing up for our rights. It is standing our ground against an unreal act that Dare County and the Chamber of Commerce. Also, this article making assumptions of threats and “anti-vaccination forces” causing this to happen. No it’s the PEOPLE SPEAKING OUT and not being silent any longer. I think the county officials have woken up and realize this was not wise decision or thought-out idea. There are many business owners that have stood up for their rights, not to be discriminated against in this manner. Do not shame the businesses that made this initiative fail, shame the government that put this initiative on the businesses! I will say this, are you to ask all your customers if they have been vaccinated before they have entered? That would be unrealistic much less probably steer your customers away. If we continue down this path, the next thing we all know we have a patch on our shoulder and be in marched off to concentration camps. History went down that road before. You think I am being far-fetched or a conspiracy theorist or just plain “out there”, however this all got started to lessen the curve and a year later we are being driven down a path of fear, disgrace, and complete socialism that is on the path of communism. Yes I said it folks and if you don’t take your blindfolds off, and pull your muzzles away from you face that they have forced on you, your voice will never be heard. Stand up for what you know is right, turn off your television as it’s feeding you a bunch of lies and remember what America is! Fight for our forefathers and those that came before us to secure this land and make it a great nation. Maybe you should all stand up and say your Pledge of Allegiance so you can remember how our country was founded. Or have you all forgotten what it says and stands for? Let me help you remember it goes like this, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all!“


    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 7:17 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Nonie, the comments on this page are moderated and as I have said on numerous occasions, the comment section of the Outer Banks Voice is akin to an old letters to the editor section of a newspaper, not somebody’s Facebook page. Your comment has been deleted for two reasons. Number one, any references to Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are so over the top that they cause a comment to be deleted. Secondly, to compare a program that gives stickers to businesses with a certain number of vaccinated employees to a Holocaust that killed millions of people is beyond reasonable commentary. So here again are the list of things that cause a comment to be deleted.

    The comment section on a website is not a Facebook page where comments and insults can often fly fast and furious. It should be the equivalent of a letters to the editor section of a newspaper. Hopefully, the comments are well thought out and add interesting perspective to whatever issue is being discussed. They should also bring value to the other readers of the news site.

    Here are the reasons why I may choose not to post a comment a) inappropriate language b) personal attacks c) unsubstantiated charges or allegations d) No clear or coherent point e) excessive grammatical or spelling errors f) numerous comments by the same individual in a short period of time g) A toss off comments that feels like it took the writer 10 seconds to compose and h) comments that complain about comments not being posted i) any use of the word Nazi or other words associated with Germany’s Third Reich.

    Wednesday, Apr 7 @ 7:33 am