FROM STAFF REPORTS
Iredell County officials want Gov. Roy Cooper to consider abandoning “a general one-size-fits-all approach” to managing the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina and give local governments the authority to manage the crisis.
In a letter to the governor dated May 1, Board of Commissioners Chairman James Mallory also requests that counties be evaluated individually for phases I, II and III of Cooper’s plan to reopen the businesses that he ordered closed through executive orders to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
The governor’s original stay-at-home order has been extended through Friday, May 8, at which time Cooper said the state could be ready to enter phase I.
Mallory, however, said Iredell County is poised to skip phase I — which he described as “basically a continuation” of the stay-at-home order and various other executive orders — and begin phase II of Cooper’s plan.
Writing on behalf of the entire board, Mallory recommended that the governor expand mass gathering limitations from 10 to 50 people “subject to strict social distancing criteria.” This would allow smaller churches to resume worship services and larger churches to do so at reduced capacity.
The chairman also requested that close-contact service providers and other businesses currently closed by executive order be allowed to re-open as long as they follow CDC guidelines.
On Saturday, the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services reported that there have been a total of 11,509 cases of COVID-19 across the state. There have been 420 deaths attributed to the coronavirus in North Carolina, and 502 people remain hospitalized.
The Iredell County Health Department has reported 117 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county. Forty people were isolating at home as of Friday and four others were hospitalized. Meanwhile, 67 people in the county are presumed recovered and six individuals have died from the coronavirus.
While local officials have stressed for weeks that COVID-19 is widespread throughout the county, Mallory asserted in the letter that “with the exception of Lincoln County, Iredell County’s per capita rate is the lowest in the Charlotte region.”
“We have only four COVID patients among our three hospitals and their capacity and PPE stocks are sufficient enough that elective surgeries that initially do not require overnight stays are being gradually resumed the first full week of May,” Mallory added.
Iredell Health System and Piedmont HealthCare officials have notified county commissioners that they plan to resume some elective surgical procedures beginning Monday, May 4.
Mallory suggested that the state discount positive cases of COVID-19 in residents of congregant living facilities when analyzing trends that will determine whether the state is ready for phase I, II or III in Cooper’s plan. Residents of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other types of congregant residences account for less than 2 to 3 percent of the state’s population but comprise 28 percent of the COVID-19 cases, according to Mallory’s letter to the governor.
“It is a source of great frustration to people who have diligently and with positive attitudes taken these necessary and painful protective measures to see little light at the end of the tunnel when a small segment of the population skews the results for everyone,” the chairman said. “Both groups need to have tailored responses to meet their needs.”