Dare County is “experiencing community-wide spread of the COVID-19 virus,” the Dept. of Health and Human Services reports today in an online update.
The DCDHHS urges people to “maintain social distancing, wear your mask, and wash your hands often” in order to have a “direct impact” on the spread of COVID-19—which it describes as being “from the northern end of the county to the southern end of the county” and including the Dare County mainland.
“YOU CAN PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS!” the update states in all-capital letters.
As of 3 p.m. today, 77 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County, 41 of whom are residents and 36 of whom are non-residents.
Since DCDHHS’s last update on Tuesday, 17 new positive cases have been diagnosed: Twelve are residents, and five are non-residents.
Today’s update also clarifies that Dare County’s face-covering requirement, which took effect last Sunday at 9 a.m., is “now aligned” with Governor Roy Cooper’s statewide face-covering requirement, which takes effect at 5 p.m. today.
We believe that the Governor’s face-covering requirement, imposed in Executive Order 147–which also extends Phase Two of North Carolina’s reopening for three weeks–is weaker than Dare County’s because it has the potential to be less rigorously enforced.
Unlike the Dare County face-covering mandate, the Executive Order does not impose a criminal penalty on individuals who violate the state face-covering requirement.
Instead, EO 147 provides that police may cite operators of retail businesses, restaurants, personal care, grooming, and tattoo businesses, child care facilities, and other specific “businesses” or “organizations” enumerated in the order for failing to enforce the face-covering requirement by ensuring that their customers and workers comply with it.
The Executive Order also authorizes law enforcement to use state trespassing laws and any other laws that a worker, customer, or patron may violate if he/she refuses to wear a face covering for a reason that is not listed among the EO’s exceptions and “enters the premises or refuses to leave the premises.” (For more about masks, see below.)
[6/27/20 UPDATE: Bob Woodard, who is the chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and the Dare County Control Group, speaks in a You Tube videotaped message posted yesterday afternoon about the community-wide spread of COVID-19 in Dare County and the Control Group’s decision to agree to a preemption of the State’s face-covering requirement over the county’s similar mandate.
[Much of what Mr. Woodard says is identical to the language of the DCDHHS update bulletin, upon which The Beacon based this report.
[You may see Mr. Woodard’s message at https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/6388/1483 or access it at youtube.com/DareCounty.]
COMMUNITY SPREAD, RISE IN POSITIVE TESTS AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE
Over the past week, Dare County has “seen a growing number of individuals who have tested positive but do not know where they acquired the virus,” the DCDHHS explains in its update.
A “growing number of positive cases,” it says, are among teens and young adults who “have experienced only mild to moderate symptoms.”
The DCDHHS warns that the “greater concern” of the case increase in the younger age groups—greater than the health risks to them of their infections—is the “likelihood” that infected persons will spread it to others, “including those who are at risk of developing severe complications from the virus.”
Of the 17 new cases, two are 17-year-olds; four are between the ages of 18 and 24; seven are between the ages of 25 and 49; and four are between 50 and 64. None is age 65 or older.
Twelve are males, and five are females.
Two cases reported on the DCDHHS dashboard today are included in the 17-case count. They are a man and a woman between the ages of 25 and 49, one of whom is a resident, and the other of whom is not.
The Dare resident is in home isolation locally, and the non-resident has transferred to isolation in his/her home county.
The dashboard also indicates that one of the non-residents who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolating in Dare County has transferred to his/her home county.
A BREAKDOWN OF THE 17 LATEST CASES
The DCDHHS update breaks down the 17 cases as follows:
Of the 12 residents:
*Three are “close acquaintances,” of whom two are mildly symptomatic and one is asymptomatic. “All three acquired the virus through direct contact . . . with an individual whose positive result was reported” on June 22, the update says.
None of the other nine residents have any relationship to each other, according to the DCDHHS. Of these nine, the Department says:
*Seven are symptomatic and acquired the virus through community spread.
*One is asymptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact.
*One is asymptomatic and acquired the virus by community spread.
Of the five non-residents, the DCDHHS says, none is connected to any other. Their case breakdown is:
*Two are symptomatic and most likely acquired the virus through community spread outside of Dare County.
*One is symptomatic and acquired the virus through travel.
*One is symptomatic and acquired the virus through community spread.
*One is symptomatic and acquired the virus through direct contact with an individual whose positive test was reported on June 18.
The DCDHHS has done contact tracing in all 17 cases and has notified and directed to quarantine the direct contacts it has identified. According to the update, the DCDHHS calls on these people to verify their compliance with the quarantine order and can take “legal action” against anyone who violates quarantine and isolation orders.
APPOINTMENTS STILL AVAILABLE FOR COVID-19 DIAGNOSTIC TESTS
Appointments still remain for COVID-19 diagnostic drive-thru testing appointments on June 30, starting at 10 a.m., at the Dare County Parks & Recreation facility, 602 Mustian St., in Kill Devil Hills. All antibody testing appointments have been booked.
DCDHHS reports that 438 appointments have been made for this antibody and diagnostic testing event, which the county is hosting in partnership with Mako Medical Laboratories of Raleigh. Test results will be available within 72 hours.
If you would like to make an appointment for a drive-thru COVID-19 diagnostic test (a nasal swab), you may call (252) 475-5008 on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. For more information, see www.darenc.com/covidtesting.
A LAST WORD, FOR NOW, ON FACE COVERINGS
Yesterday we promised that we would look closer today at the Governor’s new executive order–in particular, at the face-covering requirement–but we find that we have run out of COVID-19 steam for the week and must leave our commentary here for now.
We simply have not had the time to analyze the statewide face-covering requirement beyond what we have said today about its means of enforcement, which we have questioned.
Here is the Executive Order: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO147-Phase-2-Extension.pdf
The EO specifies that “all North Carolinians will be on the honor system about whether or not there is a reason why they cannot wear a Face Covering.
“Everyone in this state is asked to tell the truth,” it says, “and—if they are healthy and able to wear a mask—to wear a Face Covering so that they do not put other people at risk of serious illness and death.”
Governor Cooper would rather persuade people to be in compliance with the directive than pressure them to be with the threat of a criminal penalty.
The EO provides that businesses and organizations are entitled to rely on their customers’ or patrons’ representations about whether or not they are excepted from the face-covering requirement.
The EO also gives businesses the option of offering curbside service, providing home delivery, or using some other “reasonable measure” to deliver its goods or services to a customer who states that a face-covering exception applies.
You will find FAQs about the new Executive Order here: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO-147-FAQ.pdf
Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 6/26/20