‘I am telling you that we are in a crisis’

By on August 28, 2021

Message from OBX Hospital Chief of Staff on school masks

Dr. Daniel Dwyer

On Sept. 1, the Dare County Board of Education will convene in a special meeting to discuss its decision earlier this month to approve optional masking in school rather than universal masking.  On Aug. 27, the neighboring Currituck County Board of Education voted unanimously to reverse its earlier decision and instead require masks in schools.

In recent days, there has been a flurry of emails between local health officials and members of the Dare Board of Education and Dare County Schools officials. This one, released through a records request, is from Outer Banks Hospital Chief of Staff Dr. Daniel Dwyer.


Dear Fellow Community Leaders,

As Chief of Staff for close to 350 providers through The Outer Banks Hospital, I write to request that you urgently mandate masking for Dare County students until this Delta variant surge is no longer a threat.

The Delta variant has proved to be more transmissible and harmful to those it infects, including children. It is imperative we do all we can to protect our students, many of whom are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Masks are a simple and effective measure that can make schools a safer place for students to learn. This does not have to be an academic year decision. Instead, I’m urging you to make a strategic decision to help get this immediate threat under control now.

Last year at this time, there were 21 cases of COVID-19 in Dare County. Today there are over 250 with a variant so contagious that each positive individual likely spreads the virus to six other people. In just the first week of the school year, we’ve witnessed children testing positive for COVID-19 and many being quarantined. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Vidant Medical Center is full and Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters is currently stacking patients. All beds are occupied at The Outer Banks Hospital and we’re having an increasingly difficult time transferring patients who require a higher level of care because hospitals throughout the region are also operating at-capacity. Some patients are waiting several days in the Emergency Department for care.

Staffing shortages have forced us to reduce hours at both Outer Banks Urgent Care facilities in Kitty Hawk and Nags Head effective this Saturday, Aug. 28 so that we can continue serving the community while still caring for our frontline teams.

I don’t have to tell you that these challenges have a direct effect on the health outcomes of patients. Hospitalizations of those suffering from COVID-19 means there are fewer beds and resources for our community members experiencing other serious health challenges.

Our children look to us to keep them safe. Many of them hold a special place in my heart because I delivered them at our hospital. My hope for each of them then and now is that they remain safe and have every opportunity to experience an excellent education.

As a physician, husband, father, and community member, I am telling you that we are in a crisis. We must make difficult decisions now in order to save lives. Following CDC recommendations for masking in schools will go a long way toward keeping students in school, and teachers and parents at work. If we do not do so, our local healthcare workforce and services will be adversely impacted as students who are not masked will require testing, quarantine and possibly hospitalization.

I look forward to partnering with you to keep our students in the classroom and local access to healthcare strong for everyone who needs it.


Daniel Dwyer, MD

Chief of Staff
The Outer Banks Hospital

SEE ALSO: OBX Hospital announces changes in Urgent Care hours






  • Lucas

    I have said from the beginning and still say that masking should be a personal choice. When the filter (mask) is not fine enough to stop the particulate (virus) from penetrating that filter then at that point the filter is not effective. The same is true for the vaccine. This should be a personal choice. The media and some of our government is saying to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the virus. The vaccine in fact does not prevent the spread of the virus and was never intended to. The vaccine (just like a flu shot) was intended to lessen the symptoms in individuals who contract the virus. What is bothersome is how divided our society is over this issue. There is so much finger pointing about why the current spike. It is not the unvaccinated persons fault that this virus is spiking as the vaccine does not prevent transmission. For those that feel like the vaccine and masks are what is best for them, please continue to get vaccinated and wear your mask. For those who feel that breathing fresh air and not being vaccinated is what is best for them, please don’t get vaccinated and continue to breathe fresh air. For all of those who believe you are “following the science” you need to step back and question what “science” you are following because even the science can not come to a consensus or even be consistent. We will be dealing with different variants of the coronavirus for years just as we have in years past. Practice good hygiene habits, do your best to naturally build up your immune systems (which sometimes means getting sick), take care of your body and diet as best you can and live and enjoy your life!

    Tuesday, Aug 31 @ 10:19 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Lucas, I appreciate the tone of your comment, but how can vaccines not help stop the spread of the virus? Not only do vaccinated people get less sick, they get infected at lower rates which means they aren’t spreading it as much.

    Tuesday, Aug 31 @ 7:20 pm
  • WindyBill

    I don’t want to drive below the speed limit just because some dumb sign says i should. I really don’t want to go in the in door and out thru the out door just because it makes some store bureaucrat feel good. These thoughts make as much sense as not wearing a mask, or far worse, objecting to kids wearing masks in school. If you want to increase your risk of sickness and death and increase the risk of infecting and killing older family members, go for it. BUT Give the Kids a chance!! They have no say in the matter.

    Tuesday, Aug 31 @ 11:27 am