3/25/20: DARE COUNTY ANNOUNCES FIRST POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST; STATE ANNOUNCES FIRST DEATHS. THE BEACON SHARES RESOURCES THAT MAY BE USEFUL DURING CRISIS, N.C. REAL ESTATE COMM. DECISION ON RENTERS’ REFUNDS. (Town postpones April 3 bulk-trash pickup)

Coronavirus-CDC-678x381

It was inevitable.

BREAKING NEWS: The Dare County Dept. of Public Health announced its first positive COVID-19 test this morning and said the infected person is self-isolating and doing well.

See Bulletin 15 from Dare County Emergency Management at https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/6016/17?backlist=%2fdepartments%2fhealth-human-services%2fcoronavirus

The person is believed to have acquired the virus through travel or direct contact, not through community spread, according to Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Resources.

Wavy.com reported that the person did not use a Dare County address when tested.

The case will not be included in the case count updated daily online by the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services.

In other news, N.C. State health officials have reported the first two COVID-related deaths in the state. See https://governor.nc.gov/news/north-carolina-reports-first-covid-19-associated-deaths; and https://www.wavy.com/news/north-carolina/north-carolina-sees-number-of-covid-19-cases-jump-past-500/

One person was from Cabarrus County, which is near Charlotte. The other was described as being from Virginia and traveling through North Carolina. The Cabarrus County resident was reportedly in his/her late 70s and had multiple underlying medical problems.

Mecklenburg County, in which Charlotte is located, announced a stay-at-home order yesterday that will go into effect tomorrow at 8 a.m. and stay in effect until at least midnight on April 16, according to N.C. State Sen. Jeff Jackson, who represents Mecklenburg.

ABOUT TOWN

The previously scheduled April 3 bulk-waste collection in Southern Shores has been postponed, according to an announcement on the Town website.

The Town also has updated its list of “Town Operations and Meetings” to specify that the next Town Council meeting will be held April 7, but the date is “subject to change.”

DARE COUNTY AND STATE RESOURCES

Dare County Emergency Management issued a COVID-19 bulletin yesterday that was chock-full of potentially useful state and local information for small businesspeople, parents of young children, and anyone else needing assistance during the coronavirus crisis. But you have to click on a link to access it.

Many of you may already be taking advantage of these resources because most were previously announced. Undeterred by the risk of redundancy, however, The Beacon offers the following highlights to facilitate online searching:

Businesses and Employees

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina has compiled a list of extensive resources, both state and federal, that are available to assist businesses and employees through the pandemic. See https://edpnc.com/nc-business-relief-resources-covid-19/.

This website is updated regularly:

Included among these resources is information about filing for unemployment: Call 888-737-0259 or go to https://des.nc.gov/apply-unemployment/; and

Information about small business loans: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Community Resources

A list of community resources that includes information about what the County has categorized as “food,” “utilities,” “families,” “businesses and employees,” and “nonprofits” is available at https://www.darenc.com/departments/health-human-services/coronavirus/covid-19-community-resources.

All Dare County children up to the age of 18 can receive breakfast and lunch at no cost, Monday through Friday, at area locations, including the Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

Breakfast is served from 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., and lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The main meal site locations are Manteo, First Flight, and Cape Hatteras elementary schools. But there also are community locations, the closest of which for Southern Shores residents are the KHES, Daniels Home Import, and the Belk Center in Kill Devil Hills.

Many area utilities are making payment and late-fee exceptions during the crisis.

Dominion Energy has announced that it will not shut off power due to nonpayment, and it will reconnect service for residential customers whose services were shut off. If you are facing financial difficulties, you may be eligible for short-term payment extensions, long-term payment assistance, or energy assistance. Contact Dominion Energy.

Spectrum has announced that it will not terminate service for 60 days (March 16-May 16) for residential or small business customers who face difficult economic circumstances. It also will not charge late fees to those customers facing COVID-19-relatd difficulties.

Free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access is available for the same 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll, call 844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.

Verizon is also waiving late fees from March 16 to May 16, and will not terminate the service of a customer who has been adversely affected by events involving the coronavirus. Customers experiencing a hardship should call the Verizon customer service team to discuss their situation and available options.

CenturyLink, too, is waiving late fees and not terminating residential or small business customers’ service due to COVID-19 financial circumstances. It is also suspending data usage limits for consumer customers during this time period.

Refunds Due Vacation Home Renters

The N.C. Real Estate Commission has determined that landlords and brokers must refund all monies paid by vacation property tenants for rental weeks affected by the closure of access to the Outer Banks.

Advised by the N.C. Attorney General’s Office, the Commission has interpreted the N.C. Vacation Rental Act to require landlords and brokers to refund all tenant monies when “access to [a vacation] property cannot be provided.”

See the Commission’s Statement at https://www.ncrec.gov/Pdfs/COVIDRelatedRoadBridgeAccessClosures.pdf.

The Commission states: “In those instances where the real estate broker may have legally disbursed up to fifty percent of the rent received to the owner as provided [by the Vacation Rental Act] the broker must return the funds the broker continues to hold in their trust account to the tenant. Similarly, the landlord, and not the broker, is responsible for returning to the tenant the money the landlord received as an advanced disbursement. A landlord who refuses to return money to a tenant may be subject to a civil suit by the tenant.”

The Beacon urges vacation property owners who are affected by the Commission’s decision to contact their brokers if they have not already heard from them.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 3/25/20

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