The 9 a.m. April 6 meeting of the Dare County Commissioners reflected just how much has changed in the past few weeks. Four of the seven commissioners, following social distancing guidelines, sat well part on site in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room in Manteo. The three others participated remotely. The meeting was adjourned very quickly.
The remarks below were offered by Commissioners Chair Bob Woodard at the outset of the meeting.
Good morning, these past two weeks have been extremely stressful, to say the least, for all of us with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. I want to thank my fellow Control Group members (the six mayors of the municipalities; Commissioner Couch, who represents Hatteras Island; Sheriff Doug Doughtie: and our National Park Service Superintendent Dave Hallac) for their undivided attention to this pandemic. Tough decisions had to be made by this group to protect our citizens. The group meets daily to deal with this crisis.
Let me be very clear, I will not apologize for these tough decisions. The decision to restrict visitors and non-resident property owners was not made lightly. We truly hope everyone will understand that this difficult decision was made to safeguard our citizens. These restrictions will save lives. Like you, we look forward to the day when things can get back to normal. It cannot be stressed enough that staying home and limiting unnecessary travel is the most effective way to control the spread of this virus.
The only way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is if each citizen, and our businesses in Dare County, accept responsibility for the health of the entire community. I implore you all to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. The few who choose to ignore these restrictions are not only endangering their own lives, but they are risking the lives of their families, coworkers, and neighbors. And, in turn, risking the lives of our first responders and healthcare workers. We need your help to keep people safe. We cannot do this alone!
The Dare County Control Group continues to meet daily to receive updates and to make any decisions necessary to protect the public health and safety of our citizens. It is imperative that we all do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and again, everyone is asked to refrain from unnecessary travel.
We understand the devastating financial consequences these restrictions are having on our community and your livelihood. It’s not about how bad the spread of COVID-19 is in our community now; it’s about what will happen if we allow the virus to spread. The consequences would be devastating and far reaching, further extending the tremendous economic losses we are already experiencing in our community. The choices we are making now will lessen future economic impacts on our community and increase our chances of thriving as a healthy community.
Amongst all this uncertainty, one thing remains certain, we are all safer at home. Our visitors are safer at their homes. Our non-resident property owners are safer at their home as well.
Thank you all for your understanding and your support of the Board of Commissioners and the Dare County Control Group. Working together, we will overcome these challenges. Please continue to do what is necessary to protect yourself and your family.
In closing, I would like to offer the following:
Fear is a powerful human emotion that can cause us to respond inappropriately or motivate us to take positive actions. Fear can even stop us from turning to the almighty, our rescuer in time of need, who knows every personal and world disruption we will face in our lifetime. His timeless word, the Bible, has all the answers and antidotes to keep us calm, cool, and collected.
He assures us, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isaiah 41:10)
We want to trust God but there are times when peace eludes us. We’re worried and anxious and I get that. Then God reminds us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Thank you and God Bless!