BY KARISSA MILLER

Iredell County commissioners have known that a positive step forward during the COVID-19 pandemic will be the reopening of nonessential businesses throughout the county.

They expected to have a say about when that happens.

That’s not the case. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a 30-day statewide stay-at-home order on March 27 that prohibits certain types of businesses, such as nail salons and barber shops, from conducting business. Executive orders issued by the governor supersede all local directives and ordinances.

During the Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, Chairman James Mallory asked commissioners for their consent to send a letter on behalf of the board to the governor and the local legislative delegation seeking permission to make decisions regarding stay-at-home orders and other restrictions for the county.

Mallory wants the county to be able to move from a “statewide meat clever approach, one-size-fits-all, to a more discreet scalpel-like approach.”

The conditions in Iredell County, where have been less than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three deaths linked to the coronavirus, are better than many metro Charlotte areas, he explained.

The goal of Cooper’s executive order, Mallory said, was “slow the spread — not stop the spread … so that our healthcare systems would not be overwhelmed.”

“We need to keep our eye on the ball. We don’t want to pull the trigger too soon and lose ground that we have very painfully gained,” Mallory said. “On the other hand, we need to be able to move forward to achieve both goals — not only protecting lives, but restoring livelihoods.”

“I would caution everyone our success depends on everyone practicing personal responsibility and social distancing,” he added.

Mallory urged citizens to continue to follow the guidelines of the CDC — washing hands frequently, wearing a face mask, cleaning frequently touched surfaces, practicing social distancing and staying home as often as possible.

Vice Chairman Tommy Bowles agreed that decisions should be made by local elected officials.

“We have to do a calculated approach … we have to do this cautiously, but we’ve got to get on with it,” Bowles said.

Commissioner Ken Robertson said it’s a fluid situation and the data changes daily and that the board will make data-based decisions.

Robertson said Cooper’s stay-at-home order is very broad. Any business can deem itself “essential” and reopen, with the exception of sit-down restaurants, beauty shops and barber shops, as long as it can ensure social distancing, he said.

“I want us to get open. We need to spend our money local,” Robertson said.

And while he would prefer that local governments have leeway, Robertson said he respects the decisions made by Gov. Cooper and President Trump.

He also spoke of the many scientific unknowns, including the difficulty the prevalence of COVID-19.

Commissioner Gene Houpe reminded the public that the county’s website has updated information on the novel coronavirus and other resources. He said that it’s important to get factual information locally.

He also praised county employees and healthcare workers for meeting the needs of citizens during this unprecedented challenge.

Houpe mentioned that these workers are isolating themselves from their families as they provide care to residents. Healthcare workers are also among the patients who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Commissioners unanimously approved Mallory’s request to send a letter to the governor and other lawmakers, seeking local control over which businesses can reopen. It is likely that commissioners will include barber shops, beauty salons and sit-down restaurants.

Mallory stressed that the county will align its actions with the Town of Mooresville, for example, to ensure that any local changes are not confusing to residents.

Commissioners wondered what the response would be from the public as government-ordered protections are modified or lifted. Will COVID-19 cases diminish during the summer months? Will citizens continue to social distance?

While commissioners appeared optimistic about their next small steps, they also reminded the public of the one fact that many people continue to overlook: There is still no vaccine for COVID-19.

13 thoughts on “Iredell County commissioners will ask Gov. Cooper for authority to lift some COVID-19 restrictions

  1. Beverly Sproul Holt says:

    I am appalled that our elected Iredell County Commissioners fail to recognize that the COVID-19 infection rate continues to rise daily. Guidelines are in place now that are not being adhered to. To lift those guidelines rather than seek to enforce the guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19 is irresponsible public leadership. There is no COVID-19 vaccine nor effective home treatment.

    • Dana Holmes says:

      I agree with Beverly. Yes the economy is being effected; however, without people there is no economy. So look at the broader picture and enforce the rules; do not reopen early. The numbers rise evey day even in Iredell County. So businesses open, now you have more people being infected and now our health care workers will be more compromised. I can say yes this virus is not as bad as flu, and yes it will not go away but no one knows for sure. People may not show symptoms so how do you know if your infected? So while the numbers are not plateauing or declining, do not lift restrictions. There is not enough restrictions in place. And the ones that are — Very few are actually folllowing. We will overcome this but patience and not jumping into action to open is what needs to be done. There are reasons why we have not decreased the numbers. That is what needs to be looked at – not opening quicker than needed.

      • Jan Huffman says:

        Social distancing has flattened the curve so our cases have not increased rapidly. Cases are continuing to rise which means people are infected and aren’t aware they are spreading the disease. Also some people are not social distancing. The federal guidelines say case number should decline for 14 days. We aren’t there. This virus doesn’t know county lines. A recent national survey shows even if businesses are open 75% of people won’t go sit in a restaurant. We don’t have a proven drug for treatment, we don’t have rapid testing and we don’t have a vaccine.

    • To allow our economy to continue to make a free fall and put us into a serious recession while the death rate of this disease is in line, and in many places, lease than the common flu. That, my friends, is irresponsible leadership😴😴Wake up Statesville. And know that you don’t have to be sheeples. 👍🏼

      • Jan Huffman says:

        NC’s first death Covid-19 was March 23. As of Tuesday we had over 230 deaths. Since September there have been 167 flu deaths. More people died in one month from Covid -19 in NC than the entire flu season which started in September and that’s with social distancing part of that the time since March 23. We have flu vaccine, rapid test and treatment drugs. No the death rate is not inline with flu deaths.

    • ANGELA MILLER says:

      Living in fear is not the way to live. They need a DIFFERENT approach. Everyone can NOT just ride it out and stay home. The community has a diverse group of economic situations!

  2. How can elected officials dispute what highly qualified medical professionals have put in place? Some people need to accept their place when health decisions are at play.

  3. Sherry Johnson says:

    We sit next to the state’s hotspot for the virus and yet our commissioners think there is some kind of magic barrier between us and Mecklenburg. Meanwhile, the numbers continue to rise. To irresponsibly open too soon will make the sacrifices already made pointless and the resurgence of this virus even more vicious. Our community can’t bear that cost–one that will make our current situation seem like a walk in the park. This threat is far from over. We need to stay the course, stay at home and save lives.

  4. I think everyone should be tested first!!!
    Can someone please explain to me how we are supposed to keep practicing the social distances if I am getting a haircut or if I am getting a Tattoo 😎

  5. Jan Huffman says:

    Exactly. Businesses that being opened in other states make no sense. Spas, salons and tattoo parlor where patrons are within inches of each other for extended periods of time.

  6. WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT …

    I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

    For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

    For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

    With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than when they were working. Others are working more hours for less money, due to pay cuts or loss in sales. Yet, some see $0 because they are self-employed and simply don’t qualify.

    Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus, while other families of 4 saw $0.
    Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

    Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment, and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

    Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling, while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children, on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

    Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

    Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

    So, friends, we are NOT in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are different.

    Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

    We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

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