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Coastal Communities Discourage Travel

Carteret County officials in this video discourage travel to the coast under the governor’s stay-at-home order and to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

State and coastal government officials updated coronavirus orders and precautions as the number of cases continued to grow Thursday.

Anyone coming from outside of Carteret County into Atlantic Beach for overnight stays will have to self-quarantine for 14 days starting at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Trace Cooper, mayor for the Bogue Banks town, said during an announcement via Facebook Live Thursday afternoon. Exceptions are those performing essential services.

“Self-quarantine means you do not leave your home,” Cooper said, noting that property owners in town, including second homeowners, and those who work in an essential business can come, but all others must stay away. Cooper said that the emergency order is to discourage second homeowners from going back and forth between Atlantic Beach and larger cities.

“If you have a home here, and decide to stay at home and shelter in place here in Atlantic Beach, you’re welcome to do that, we just don’t want you to go back and forth between Atlantic Beach and Raleigh or Charlotte or Greenville. So you’re here, stay here. If you’re home stay at home,” he said.

The message from Atlantic Beach is similar to that from other coastal towns and counties as the holiday weekend approaches.

“We’re all in this together, even though we have to be far apart,” said Stephanie Cannon, health director for Carteret County, in a video the county released Thursday asking visitors to stay home. Carteret County had a total of 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one is deceased as of Thursday afternoon.

The police department for Beaufort in Carteret County began Thursday operating an entry checkpoint on Turner Street near U.S. 70. County full-time residents, those sheltering in place in Beaufort as of March 31, those providing essential business and government services or outdoor service and providing necessary care for a Beaufort resident will be allowed entry.

Another Carteret County town, Cape Carteret starting Friday will have a curfew from 9 .m. to 5 a.m. daily. Also in place are essential retail business occupancy limitations and travel restrictions within town limits except on state-maintained roads and limitations on short-term rentals.

Brunswick County is urging residents not to travel or encourage others to travel to and from the county during the weekend or the rest of the month. The county is reporting as of Wednesday 29 positive cases of COVID-19 and one is a death associated to COVID-19.

New Hanover County residents remain under countywide restrictions.

“I know this weekend and coming days are typically a time for family get-togethers for Easter and Passover celebrations,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman in a statement. “But we are at a critical time in our fight against COVID-19 and it is so important that you stay at home. We know this virus is here in our community and our region, so traveling anywhere except for those essential reasons would put you and those around you at greater risk.”

North Topsail Beach officials reiterated Thursday that all residents and property owners this weekend are to “stay at your primary place of residence until further guidance is provided and our state leaders deem it safe to travel.”

Sunset Beach amended Thursday its state of emergency to limit movement within the town to residents, property owners and employees of essential businesses. Nonresident property owners can travel if absolutely necessary.

Holden Beach commissioners amended Wednesday the emergency order closing the beach strand in an effort to detract tourists and second-home owners from visiting unnecessarily this weekend, Port City Daily reported.

All nonresident property owners wishing to enter mainland Hyde County now need to be issued a temporary entry pass. Nonresident property owners and immediate family only will be issued entry passes.  The Ocracoke Island reentry pass system is active and can be accessed at www.hydecountync.gov/ocracoke-covid.

State’s death toll reaches 65

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the state has 3,651 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths. Coastal counties are seeing an increase in both.

A Craven County resident died from complications related to COVID-19 Thursday at CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern. Craven County has 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Dare County Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday the first COVID-19 associated death. There are three positive cases of COVID-19 linked to residents and staff at Peak Resources, a nursing and rehabilitation facility in Nags Head. The total number of cases of COVID-19 in Dare County are 13.

Martin-Tyrrell-Washington District Health reported Wednesday its first COVID-19 related death in Washington County. Currently there are 10 cases in Washington County and none reported for Tyrrell.

New Hanover County Public Health officials announced the total overall case count is 53. In Onslow County, there were 27 positive cases and one fatality. There are three confirmed cases in Pender County. Beaufort County has had a total of 11 cases.

Albemarle Regional Health Services is reporting as of 11 a.m. Thursday 10 lab confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Pasquotank County, two in Perquimans County, two in Chowan County, three in Currituck County, 11 in Bertie County and four each in Gates and Hertford counties. Hertford and Bertie counties have had one each COVID-19 related death.

Cooper signs new executive order

State DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen thanks North Carolinians for staying home during this year’s Easter and Passover celebrations. 

Gov. Cooper signed Thursday a new executive order that requires new social distancing policies at retail stores.

Starting at 5 p.m. Monday, the number of people inside stores cannot be more than 20% of the stated fire capacity or have five people for every 1,000 square feet. The stores must also mark 6 feet of distance at places where people need to gather like at checkout lines. The order also encourages stores to make hand sanitizer be accessible, designate shopping times for seniors and at-risk people, use shields at checkouts and mark aisles as one-way to limit traffic.

The order also mandates protective measures for nursing homes such as requiring nursing homes to screen residents and staff for illness and requiring facemasks for employees.

Also in the order are additional measures to get more unemployment claims processed faster. Since March 16, the Division of Employment Security had accepted 497,000 unemployment claims.

Cooper’s Executive Order No. 130 provides more health care workers and orders essential childcare services for workers responding to the crisis.

DHHS is offering two new mental health resources. Hope4NC Helpline is for residents and Hope4Healers Helpline is for health care professionals, emergency medical specialists, first responders and other staff who work in health care settings.

Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the request for housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for residents with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday suspension of rent payments for the months of April, May and June for disaster survivors living in FEMA-purchased temporary housing units in North Carolina, as well as California, Florida and Texas, due to the effects of the pandemic. The suspension applies to rent only; rent collection is expected to resume July 1.

About the Author

Jennifer Allen

Born and raised in Swansboro, Jennifer Allen graduated from Appalachian State University in 2002 and picked up a second degree from UNC-Charlotte the following year. She joined the staff of the Carteret County News-Times in Morehead City in 2005 and completed her master's at UNC-Wilmington in 2008. Jenn spent nine years writing and editing at the News-Times before joining the staff at the Town of Beaufort in 2014, where she served as public information officer and town clerk. On June 1, 2017, Jenn came aboard as assistant editor for Coastal Review Online. She has also written for Our State Magazine and other regional and statewide publications. She lives in Morehead City with her fiancé and their pups, Z, Gus and Willa.