North Carolina will move “cautiously forward” at 5 p.m. Friday into Phase 3 of its reopening, Governor Roy Cooper announced at a coronavirus briefing this afternoon in which he outlined the easing of restrictions for large and small outdoor venues, indoor movie theaters, and outdoor bars and amusement parks.

Under this first stage of Phase 3, which will expire at 5 p.m. on Oct. 23, indoor mass gatherings will remain limited to 25 people, and outdoor mass gatherings not associated with a venue will continue to be capped at 50 people.

The State’s “mask mandate,” which requires everyone age 5 and older to wear a facial covering under circumstances that pose a risk of COVID-19, also will continue. The Governor further urged elderly or otherwise at-risk individuals to stay “safer at home.”

Characterizing the state’s coronavirus metrics, such as the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reported daily, as “mostly stable, but fragile,” Governor Cooper said, “We’re cautiously encouraged about where we are in this pandemic.”

Most of the metrics, said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, are “level, but still high.”

The Governor also remarked upon “warning signs that the disease could spike again here and across the country,” especially during the colder months, and said he was taking “the next steps meticulously and responsibly,” in accordance with his “dimmer switch approach.”

The Governor started by reiterating the announcement he made last week—in order to give colleges and universities and professional sports teams time to prepare—that large outdoor venues with seating to accommodate more than 10,000 spectators may open Friday at 7 percent occupancy.

Under the new executive order, small outdoor venues, such as arenas or amphitheaters, he said, may open at 30 percent outdoor capacity or for up to 100 guests, whichever number is less; and movie theaters and conference centers may open indoors at 30 percent capacity or for up to 100 seated guests, whichever number is less.

The Governor’s order further authorizes outdoor amusement parks to open at 30 percent capacity, but keeps indoor amusement centers closed. (The executive order is not yet available online for The Beacon to review.)

Bars that serve patrons outdoors may open at 30 percent of their outdoor capacity or for up to 100 guests, whichever is less, and must observe the alcohol-sale-for-in-person-consumption curfew of 11 p.m., which has been extended.  

A question by a reporter of Dr. Cohen about how a bar that does not currently have an outdoor capacity should limit the number of guests it serves at one time clarified that they should limit capacity to seven people per 1,000 square feet of space.

Dr. Cohen did not explain exactly how her department came up with the seven people-per-1,000-square-feet calculation, which is in the restrictions—called “complicated” by the reporter—that the State imposes on bars in the new executive order.

Indeed, all of the businesses that are opening at limited capacity are required to adhere to State safety protocols to ensure that social distancing and other public-health precautions are observed.

Outdoor events and activities are considered safer than indoor events and activities, both the Governor and the Secretary said, but not if participants cluster together, mingle closely with people who are not in their own household or “bubble,” or otherwise violate basic COVID-19 safety rules.

“We need to double-down on our work to slow the spread of this virus to keep on the right track,” said Dr. Cohen, who noted that COVID-19 cases nationwide have increased in the Midwest and the South and in the Northeast and Sandhills areas of North Carolina.

The Secretary recommended that every person do three things to thwart COVID-19:

  1. Observe the “three Ws”
  2. Download the “slow covid” exposure detection app (See The Beacon, 9/29/20 and https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc)
  3. Get a flu shot

“Being safe means being smart and making sure others around you are doing the same,” said Governor Cooper, who added that one of the State’s challenges is “just getting every person to do his or her part.”

If every person were to take “personal responsibility” and be “careful and cautious,” he said, “we could move faster to ease restrictions and stop the spread [of COVID-19].”

Asked by a reporter about the possible expiration of the statewide mask mandate, the Governor said it will remain “important until we have a vaccine or a cure to protect the population.”    

Addressing results of contact tracing, Dr. Cohen said that the “risk of viral spread” is greatest:

  1. Among extended family members and close friends who “let down their guard” when they are together [Note: This has certainly been the case in Dare County];
  2. In congregate living settings where people are “living in close quarters”; and
  3. In large gatherings, such as in restaurants, religious settings, and college dormitories.

Today’s NCDHHS dashboard records 210,632 positive cases of COVID-19, among 3,029,942 completed tests; 956 hospitalizations; and 3,532 deaths. The positivity rate is hovering around 6 percent, according to Dr. Cohen.

[UPDATE: At 5 p.m. today, the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services reported four new COVID-19 cases, all of them Dare County residents. They are a man and a woman, between ages 50 and 64; a woman between ages 25 and 49; and a girl age 17 or younger. The four are in home isolation.]

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/30/20


Dare County reported six new COVID-19 cases today—three locals and three nonresidents—for an unusually high two-day total in September of 14 new cases.

In her update today about the 18 new COVID-19-positive cases reported since last Friday, Dr. Sheila Davies remarked upon the two-day uptick and said that four of the latest cases are people age 18 or younger.

“While more and more people are beginning to re-engage in activities with others,” the director of the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services said, “we can expect to see cases increase.”

Dr. Davies urged people to continue to “follow the 3Ws to help reduce the spread of COVID-19”: wear a cloth face covering; wait six feet apart; and wash your hands often.

Dr. Davies also described a new COVID-19 exposure tracking app that the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services has made available.

Downloaded to a smartphone, the app can alert a person to when he or she has been in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19. For more information about the exposure tracking app, see https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc. (For the app to work, people have to be willing to self-report a positive COVID-19 test result.)

The NCDHHS is strongly encouraging parents to have their children participate in lower and moderate COVID-19 risk activities on Halloween, instead of traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, which involves crowd gathering, close contact, and touching.

The Department has adapted Halloween guidance issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and issued recommendations for fun alternate activities at https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/NCDHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Halloween.pdf.

Anyone for a virtual Halloween costume contest?

Today’s six new cases, according to the DCDHHS dashboard, are:

Two female residents, age 17 or younger, who are isolating at home;

One male resident, ages 18-24, who also is isolating at home;

One male nonresident, ages 18-24; and two female nonresidents, one ages 25-49, and the other ages 50-64, all of whom are isolating in Dare County.

Direct contact continues to be the predominant means by which people acquire the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to Dr. Davies’s update.

Four of the newly diagnosed Dare County residents are “close contacts” of a resident whose positive COVID-19 test result was reported on the dashboard last Friday.

Similarly, three members of the same non-resident family acquired the virus by direct contact with a person who tested positive outside of Dare County.

There currently are 15 active cases among residents in Dare County, and one resident continues to be hospitalized with complications of COVID-19.

Since March, 547 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Dare County, 295 residents and 252 nonresidents. Three residents have died, and a fourth resident who was hospitalized with COVID-19 has died from what was said to be a non-COVID-19 cause.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/29/20


While people are gnashing their teeth over the sight of, and the theft of, political yard signs in town, we prefer to notice the more fun symbols of another national event: Halloween. This tall fellow, we imagine, is a casualty of the cut-through traffic on Hickory Trail and is just one of many skeletons rattling their bones there.

Teresa Osborne, a certified public accountant with the accounting firm of Dowdy & Osborne of Nags Head, will present her fiscal year 2019-20 audit of the Town of Southern Shores’ finances at the Oct. 6 Town Council meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Pitts Center.

Also of interest on the meeting agenda, which was released yesterday, are a proposed resolution authorizing acquisition of oceanfront easements for the Town’s 2022 beach nourishment project and a budget amendment financing the acquisitions. 

See the agenda at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/wp-content/uploads/minutes-agendas-newsletters/Agendas_2020-10-06.pdf

The Beacon will report further on next Tuesday’s meeting after the meeting packet of supporting materials is posted on the Town’s website.

The Beacon, 9/29/20

9/29/20: DARE COUNTY REPORTS HIGHEST SINGLE-DAY NEW COVID-19 CASE TOTAL IN MORE THAN A MONTH; Cohen Permits Indoor Visits at Long-Term Care Facilities; Governor to Address Possible Easing of Phase 2.5 Restrictions This Week.

Dare County reported eight new COVID-19 cases yesterday, the highest single-day total since Aug. 25, when it reported 12. Five of the eight new cases are Dare County residents, according to the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) dashboard.

Yesterday’s DCDHHS dashboard also recorded that one of the two Dare County residents who had been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 has been upgraded to home isolation. Sixteen locals reportedly have active COVID-19 cases.

On the state level, Phase 2.5 of North Carolina’s reopening will expire at 5 p.m. Friday. Governor Roy Cooper has said that he will announce this week, most likely tomorrow, whether the State will continue relaxing COVID-19-related restrictions.

Last week the Governor announced that, effective Friday, large outdoor venues with a seating capacity of more than 10,000 people, including football stadiums, will be permitted to accommodate 7 percent capacity. (See The Beacon, 9/22/20.)

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, also announced yesterday that, effective immediately, indoor visitations at long-term care facilities will be permitted, provided the facility has not had a COVID-19 outbreak in at least 14 days and it is located in a county with a positive COVID-19 test rate below 10 percent, which Dare County’s is.

Visitors must be screened for coronavirus symptoms and wear a face covering, according to Dr. Cohen’s requirements. They also must use hand sanitizer before and after each visit.

(Because of its recent COVID-19 outbreak, Peak Resources in Nags Head does not qualify currently for indoor visitations.)

See the Secretary’s order here: https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/Secretarial-Order-6.pdf

For a press release on the order, see: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/ncdhhs-updates-nursing-home-visitation-order-state-has-stabilizing-metrics

Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the DCDHHS, is expected to give an update later today about the 12 new COVID-19 cases that have been reported locally since last Friday.

Yesterday’s five new Dare County cases are three residents between the ages of 25 and 49 (two women, one man); one woman between the ages of 18 and 24, whose case was belatedly reported by the State; and one man between ages 50 and 64.

The three nonresidents are two women between the ages of 50 and 64 and a boy age 17 or younger.

On Saturday, the DCDHHS dashboard reported one Dare County woman, between ages 25 and 49, and three female nonresidents, two of them between ages 25-49 and one age 17 or younger, as having tested positive locally for COVID-19.

Eleven of the 12 reported new cases are in home isolation. The Dare County woman whose positive test result was reported by the State has already recovered. 

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/29/20

9/26/20: FRIDAY, OCT. 16 IS BULK TRASH COLLECTION DAY. Plus What You Can and Cannot Dispose of Roadside.

Plastic deck chairs and chaise lounges often end up roadside for one of the town’s semi-annual bulk-waste collections. All types of furniture are acceptable for disposal.

The autumn bulk-waste collection will occur on Friday, Oct. 16, the Town of Southern Shores announced yesterday.

All acceptable items may be placed in the road right-of-way no earlier than Friday, Oct. 9, and must be out by 5 a.m. on Oct. 16, the Town said in a newsletter article that specified the type of bulk waste that has been approved for pickup.

The following commonly disposed of items are acceptable:

*Mattresses, sofas, chairs, and other furniture

*Exercise equipment

*Hot tub covers, but not hot tubs

*Refrigerators, freezers, and any other appliances that may contain refrigerant, PROVIDED they are tagged that Freon has been removed; also all doors must be removed. (If these items are not tagged, they will not be picked up.)

*Yard waste and vegetative debris bagged in clear or brown paper bags

The following items are not acceptable and will be rejected with a visible X printed on them:

*Televisions (TVs may be taken to the Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center or Dare County C&D [Construction and Demolition] Landfill, at no charge)

*Hot tubs, water heaters (Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center or Dare County C&D Landfill, no charge)

*Basketball goal posts (requires $50 permit from the Town to be taken to the Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center; no charge at the landfill)

*Untagged refrigerators or any appliances containing refrigerant (may be taken to the Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center or the landfill, no charge)

*Hazardous materials, such as paints, chemicals (Dare County offers an annual collection, see below)

*Building materials, lumber, scrap lumber, roofing, doors, screens, windows, stairs, carpets, cabinets, toilets, pallets, demolition debris (requires $50 permit to be taken to the Kitty Hawk Recycling Center; landfill, no charge)

*Soil, rocks, concrete, stumps (Kitty Hawk Recycling Center and landfill, no charge)

*Tires, any items containing gasoline; tires must be removed from their rims (Kitty Hawk Recycling Center, maximum of four tires, no charge; or Dare County Public Works Compound in Manteo)

The Kitty Hawk/Dare County Recycling Center is located at 4190 Bob Perry Road, Kitty Hawk; telephone is (252) 261-1367. It operates from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. Closed Wednesday and Sunday. See https://www.kittyhawknc.gov/departments-and-services/public-works/recycling/

Dare County C&D Landfill is located at 1603 Cub Road, Manns Harbor; telephone is (252) 473-2059. It operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. Closed Sunday. The first 500 pounds of residential trash are free; the rest is prorated at $65/ton. See https://www.darenc.com/departments/public-works/c-d-landfill-rubble-transfer-station

The Dare County Public Works Compound, Main Recycling Center, where you may take used tires and batteries, is located at 1018 Driftwood Drive, Manteo. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday. Closed Sunday.

The Dare County Dept. of Public Works sponsors a household hazardous waste collection annually at three locations. This year’s collections occurred in late May. See https://www.darenc.com/Home/Components/News/News/6278/17

For more information about Southern Shores’ Oct. 16 collection, see https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/semi-annual-bulk-waste-collection/


The Beacon stopped blogging about the weekend cut-through traffic two weeks ago, even though it continues unabated, albeit at a lower volume.

We have observed a Post-Labor Day weekend cut-through “rush-hour” on both Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., times that are related to the 5 p.m. check-in time adopted for this year’s pandemic vacation season on the Outer Banks.

Please feel free to comment on The Beacon about the traffic, even though we are not. Thank you.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/26/20


Since Wednesday, two female Dare County residents age 65 or older have been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services dashboard, and a third local woman of similar age has tested positive and is in isolation.

People diagnosed locally with COVID-19 who require hospitalization seek in-patient medical care outside of Dare County.

One woman’s hospitalization was reported Wednesday by the DCDHHS along with three other COVID-19-positive tests of Dare County residents, whose ages ranged widely. (We will probe the others after Dr. Sheila Davies posts her Friday update.)

The DCDHHS’s report yesterday of the second local woman age 65+ having tested positive and being hospitalized for COVID-19 also included the report of a third local woman 65+ testing positive for the coronavirus. She is in home isolation.

These three women may be unrelated, but the unusual occurrence of their cases raises in our mind the possibility of a relationship among them, such as a shared residency.

On Sept. 17, the DCDHHS reported having received confirmation from Peak Resources of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Nags Head skilled nursing facility. The DCDHHS has said nothing more about these four cases since.

Peak Resources is what was once called in now-outdated parlance a nursing home; it is also a rehabilitation center. It has 126 beds, which were occupied two weeks ago, according to the DCDHHS, by only 72 residents.

The DCDHHS said that it was during the 14-day quarantine of a new resident to the long-term care facility—a quarantine that is required by N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services rules—that two residents and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

If you check Peak Resources’ COVID-19 update, as the DCDHHS advised the public to do for “further information,” you will find it singularly unhelpful. Peak Resources proposes to notify people of the “occurrences of:

*“Resident/Staff confirmed positive with COVID-19; OR

*“Resident/Staff—3 or more who have developed a new onset of respiratory symptoms within 72 hours of each other,”

and to update this information weekly. We do not understand what is meant by the “three or more” qualification, but we do know that in the chart it provides, Peak Resources does not give a cumulative total of COVID-19-positive cases at its Nags Head location, nor does it indicate the status or outcome of all of the cases among its residents and staff.

See https://peakresourcesinc.com/home-2/covid/

When we checked the Peak Resources’ “update” earlier this week, there were three COVID-19-positive cases among residents and staff at the Nags Head facility; yesterday and today there are only two.

Does this mean that one has recovered or that five have occurred in the past week?

When we checked on Sept. 17, there were also three COVID-19-positive cases, not four.

Such confusion should not exist. There is no excuse for obfuscation in a public-health crisis.

We hope Peak Resources management has honestly advised the residents and their families about the number of COVID-19 cases at the Nags Head facility and has been conscientious about testing both residents and staff and taking other safety precautions.

We look forward to learning some details from the DCDHHS later today about the three new cases involving age 65+ local women, two of whom needed to be hospitalized.

Earlier today the DCDHHS reported two more COVID-19 cases among Dare County residents, both of them men, one between the ages of 25 and 49 and the other between the ages of 50 and 64.

Since March, Dare County has experienced 286 positive-COVID-19 tests among residents and 243 among nonresidents, for a total of 529. There are currently 11 active cases among residents.

(UPDATE: According to the Friday update, none of the Dare County residents newly diagnosed with COVID-19 appears to be related to each other.

(Dr. Sheila Davies, director of the DCDHHS, reports that of the eight local residents who tested positive for COVID-19 since Tuesday, two of them separately acquired the virus by direct contact with a person whose positive test result was previously reported on the dashboard; one acquired the virus by direct contact with a person who tested positive outside of Dare County; and five are not connected. The source of the latter’s coronavirus infection is “unclear.”

(The Beacon continues to find the DCDHHS’s scant details about both the people who test positive in Dare County and how they presumably acquired the virus unsatisfactory public information.)


Also today, the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services started reporting COVID-19 antigen-positive tests and deaths in the state population. According to the NCDHHS so far, antigen-positive cases make up 2 percent of all COVID-19 cases and antigen-positive deaths make up 0.7 percent of all COVID-19-associated deaths in North Carolina.

These new test and death figures are being incorporated into the NCDHHS dashboard.

See https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/dashboard/Antigen-Testing-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf

Most COVID-19 tests are molecular (PCR) tests that, according to the NCCHHS, “look for the virus’s genetic material.” An antigen test, in contrast, “is a rapid test that looks for specific proteins on the surface of the virus.”

Molecular tests are processed in a laboratory, whereas antigen tests are often “processed at the point of care, such as in a health care provider’s office,” the NCDHHS explains.

We need to do more research on why North Carolina is joining 31 other states that already report antigen-positive cases in addition to cases identified through positive molecular test results. We will get back to you after we have studied up.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/25/20


Southern Shores has a homeowner in the race: Democrat Tommy Fulcher, of Ginguite Trail, is running for the District 6 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives, which includes Dare, Currituck, Hyde, and Pamlico counties. (The Beacon makes no endorsements in partisan elections. In the past 30 years, we are not aware of any Southern Shores residents having run for state office.)

As of yesterday, 971,631 registered North Carolina voters—almost 14 percent of all registered voters in the state —had requested absentee ballots for the 2020 general election, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which updates online the number of requests daily.

With North Carolina being the first state in the nation to mail out absentee ballots—they started going out Sept. 4—the Nov. 3 election is well under way here, even though early voting does not begin until Oct. 15. (It runs through Oct. 31.)

As of Sept. 11, according to the N.C. Policy Watch, 23,443 ballots had already been returned. See http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2020/09/14/requests-for-absentee-ballots-up-1400-from-2016/

Election analysts believe that at least half of the U.S. electorate will vote by mail or early in person because of voters’ reluctance to show up at crowded polling places in November and risk exposure to COVID-19.

There are 7,153,476 registered voters in North Carolina, according to the State Board of Elections, which is fulfilling requests for absentee ballots on a rolling basis—essentially, in the order in which they are received.

See the State Board’s website for any election information you may need: https://www.ncsbe.gov/.

To request an absentee ballot, see https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home.

To check the status of your mail-in ballot, see https://northcarolina.ballottrax.net/voter/.

I returned my ballot on Monday and was able to ascertain on the “Ballot Trax” website that the U.S. Postal Service has sent it to the Dare County Board of Elections office. I will check back to ensure that the BOE has received and registered it.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/23/20


Yesterday we reported that a Dare County resident, who had been hospitalized outside of the area, had died as a result of COVID-19 complications. We based our report on an update by the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services and indicated that it had provided scant information about this person.

Today, the DCDHHS reports that the individual was a man age 65 or older.

If this information was available yesterday, and we simply missed it, we apologize. Sometimes multi-tasking gets the better of us.

This gentleman is the third Dare County resident whose death has been attributed to COVID-19. A fourth resident who was hospitalized with COVID-19 was determined to have died from a non-coronavirus-related cause.

All of the people who have died have been men in the older age group.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Late Wednesday, the DCDHHS updated its dashboard to show that four more Dare County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, including a woman age 65+ who has been hospitalized. The Beacon is always concerned when a person is ill enough with the coronavirus to be hospitalized, but this uptick also concerns us because, frankly, it should not be happening if people are observing safe practices. The four people may be members of the same family: They are a woman between the ages of 18 and 24; a woman ages 25-49; and a man, ages 50-64; as well as the older woman who has been hospitalized. We will report further on this uptick after Dr. Sheila Davies posts her Friday update.

THE BEACON, 9/23/20


Governor Roy Cooper plans to announce early next week the easing of some restrictions in place under Phase 2.5, which expires Oct. 2 at 5 p.m. See yesterday’s Beacon for news about a change in permitted capacity at outdoor venues, including sports stadiums.

A new $40 million relief fund announced yesterday by Governor Roy Cooper enables some small businesses that were closed from April through August because of COVID-19 to apply for assistance with fixed costs that they paid, such as rent and utilities.

The new N.C. Mortgage, Utility, and Rent Relief (MURR) program unveiled by the Governor offers eligible businesses up to $20,000 per business location for rent or mortgage interest and utility costs that they paid when they were closed between April 1, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2020.

Businesses must have paid these costs, and have evidence that they did, in order to receive relief payments, according to a description of the MURR program on the N.C. Dept. of Commerce website. Applications for MURR assistance, which is being administered by the N.C. DOC, may be submitted starting next week and will be evaluated on a first come, first serve basis.

Applicants will be limited to relief for two business locations, or a maximum of $40,000, according to the DOC website. To apply, a business must have fewer than 50 employees at a business location.     

For all of the important details, see: https://www.nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/disaster-recovery/mortgage-utility-and-rent-relief-murr-program

The following businesses are eligible to apply for MURR funds:

*Amusement parks

*Banquet halls with catering staff

*Bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges

*Bingo parlors

*Bowling alleys

*Dance halls

*Indoor fitness and recreation centers

*Indoor movie theaters


Nonprofits are not eligible for assistance.

If you would like to apply, you will need to produce a recent federal tax return with the page showing your NAICS code assignment; your lease or mortgage agreement; and evidence of your payment of rent or of mortgage interest and your payment of utility (electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, telephone and internet service) expenses.

You also will need an Employer Identification Number and an N.C. Secretary of State ID Number, also known as an SOS ID. You may look up your SOS ID here: https://www.sosnc.gov/online_services/search/by_title/_Business_Registration

The Dept. of Commerce will host three educational webinars about the MURR program:

Thursday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 2, at 11 a.m.

You must register online at the MURR program website page above to participate in a webinar.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/23/20


A third Dare County resident has died from complications associated with COVID-19, according to the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, which reported today that it had received “notification” that a local person hospitalized outside of the area had died.

It is unclear if the DCDHHS dashboard ever recorded this person’s hospitalization: The last time the dashboard reported the hospitalization of a Dare County resident was Sept. 18, when a man who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 outside of the area allegedly died from other causes. (See The Beacon, 9/19/20.)   

The only other details the DCDHHS made public today about the death were that the person was symptomatic and he or she “acquired the virus” by unclear means.

Since DCDHHS’s COVID-19 update Friday, 10 new cases have been reported, seven of whom are residents, including the person who died. Of the remaining six:

*One pair of family members acquired the virus by direct contact with an infected person outside of Dare County;

*Another pair of family members acquired the virus while traveling outside of Dare County;

*One person acquired the virus by unclear means; and

*The sixth was a late report of an individual who tested positive outside of Dare County and has fully recovered .

The three non-resident cases are unrelated, but all reportedly are symptomatic and acquired the virus by direct contact with individuals who tested positive outside of Dare County.


Governor Roy Cooper announced today that, effective Oct. 2, when Safer at Home Phase 2.5 is scheduled to expire, he will allow a 7 percent-capacity crowd for large outdoor venues with a seating capacity of more than 10,000 people, including football stadiums.

The limited capacity will apply to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, concert and theater arenas, ballparks, and any other outdoor venue that holds 10,000+ spectators, provided it has seats. It will not apply to public parks.

Under the current executive order, outdoor mass gatherings are limited to 50 people, and indoor mass gatherings to 25. Prevailing scientific opinion is that outdoor events are safer than indoor activities.

“We share this news today,” the Governor said in a news conference, “so those outdoor venues with seating capacity of more than 10,000 can begin preparations that are key to safely reopening their doors,” including ensuring that spectators are socially distanced.

Mr. Cooper also spoke about arenas having “separate entrances” and managing spectators so that they congregate and sit only with others in their own households.

More changes to the public-health restrictions in place could be announced early next week, the Governor said.

Last week Governor Cooper permitted elementary school children to return to full-time, in-person instruction in October, if their school districts choose to do so.

The Governor has been under pressure this month from parents of college football players who would like to be allowed inside stadiums to watch their sons play. Until last weekend’s games, Cooper had denied all such requests; but on Sept. 18 the Governor’s Office permitted 450 tickets to be given out at the N.C. State home game against Wake Forest.

Every N.C. State player received two tickets, and the Wake Forest team received 100. State came out on top of an offensive battle, 45-42. 

The number of new COVID-19 cases daily across North Carolina remains stable around 1,000 to 1,400, and daily hospitalizations continue to be between roughly 800 and 900. The positivity rate is reportedly hovering around 5 percent, which is the target goal.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, said today that she would like to see a decline in new cases.

“We have to keep working . . . ,” she said, “to make further progress.”

Today’s NCDHHS dashboard reports a total of 195,549 positive results for COVID-19 since March out of 2,824,929 tests completed; 905 hospitalizations, and 3,286 deaths.

Today’s Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services’ dashboard reports 520 total COVID-19 positive cases, of which 278 are Dare County residents and 242 are nonresidents. There currently are eight active cases of COVID-19 in Dare County, all of whom are in home isolation.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Dare County has trended downward this month, compared with cases reported in July and August. The virus is being transmitted predominantly by direct or close contact with an infected individual.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/22/20