10/23/20: 3 DARE COUNTY RESIDENTS CURRENTLY HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID-19 AS CASES CONTINUE TO INCREASE; TESTING SET NOV. 5 IN NAGS HEAD; Plus, a Word About the Council’s Budget & Planning Workshop.

Three Dare County residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19-related “complications,” according to the Dare County Dept. of Health and Human Services, which reported today that a diagnostic testing event will be held in Nags Head Nov. 5 in response to the steady increase locally of positive cases.

Since Tuesday, 30 new COVID-19-positive cases have been reported in Dare County, 80 percent of them among local residents.

In addition to Tuesday’s 13 cases—a number that recalls case spikes in July—six COVID-19 cases were reported by the DCDHHS on Wednesday, four yesterday, and seven so far today, bringing the total number of cases reported since March to 667, 379 of them among Dare County residents.

The predominant means of viral transmission continues to be direct contact among family and close contacts, the DCDHHS also reported today, although “cases of unknown origin,” it said, are also on the rise.  

Two of the three people hospitalized with COVID-19 are known to be in the higher-risk 65-and-over age group. The third was originally reported to be in home isolation, but experienced a decline and had to be hospitalized.

The latter’s “status change” was reported on the DCDHHS dashboard yesterday, without an indication of the person’s age. All three are hospitalized outside of the Outer Banks.

The DCDHHS is partnering with Mako Medical Laboratories to offer drive-thru testing Nov. 5 at the Soundside Event Site, 6800 S. Croatan Hwy., in Nags Head. The starting time has not yet been announced. The testing is open to individuals age 5 and older.

You must have an appointment and be free of COVID-19 symptoms to be tested. Please call the COVID-19 call center at (252) 475-5008, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, to register. You will be asked to email photocopies of your government-issued ID card and your insurance card before the event. For further information, please see www.darenc.com/covidtesting or contact the call center.

REPORT ON TOWN COUNCIL’S BUDGET/PLANNING WORKSHOP

The Town Council approved at its Tuesday workshop raising the minimum balance required to be maintained in the Town’s unassigned fund balance, which is used for emergency purposes, such as hurricane relief, from $1.75 million to $3 million; and hiring another police officer, redesigning the Town website, and establishing a “beach fund” for beach nourishment efforts, as well as other expenses during the current 2020-21 fiscal year.

Actually, the Council took no formal votes on any of these items. We will explain in an upcoming report how its directives–which Mayor Tom Bennett repeatedly referred to as a “consensus”–were communicated.

The Council also considered a draft Capital Improvement Plan proposed by Town Manager Cliff Ogburn and showed interest, per Mr. Ogburn’s recommendation, in updating the Town’s Land Use Plan, which, although it is copyrighted 2012, is based on data compiled in 2005.

The N.C. Division of Coastal Management sent the Town’s Land Use Plan back to it with questions and concerns after it was submitted, a process that resulted in a multiyear delay.

The Beacon will do a thorough report of the Council’s workshop as soon as our time permits. As some of you may recall, the Town Council approved updating the Land Use Plan in a previous fiscal year, but a three-person majority upended that decision. The Beacon will refresh everyone’s memories in our report.

You may view a videotape of the workshop on the Town’s YouTube site at https://www.youtube.com/user/TownofSouthernShores.

Generally speaking, the live-stream of the workshop was successful, except for those times when Council members–we mean you, Councilman Matt Neal–leaned back in their chairs and did not speak into their microphones.

We congratulate our new Town Manager on his superb preparation and presentation of the business on the workshop agenda.

CIIP COMMITTEE MEETING NOV. 17: The Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee will meet at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Pitts Center to carry out tasks assigned to it by the Town Council in the budget/planning workshop. The committee is to “redefine” its charge so as to focus strictly on street improvements and to consider a 10-year plan for prioritized street improvements and their associated expenses.

The Council also discussed changing the name of the Capital Infrastructure Improvement Planning Committee—which is a mouthful that former Councilman Chris Naston created for the purpose of having the committee take up the Dogwood Trails sidewalks—to the Streets Committee, or something similar.

In other words, the committee is being defined for the first time by Council decision, instead of operating according to Mayor Tom Bennett’s wishes.

NEXT TOWN COUNCIL MEETING ON A WEDNESDAY: The next Town Council meeting will be 5:30 p.m., on Wed., Nov. 4, in the Pitts Center. The Council is observing Election Day, but, remember, the Pitts Center will not be your polling place. All Southern Shores voters must go to the Kitty Hawk Elementary School on Nov. 3 to cast their ballots.        

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 10/23/20

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