Outer Banks leaders discuss staged reopening; Dare Day 2020 cancelled

Checkpoint at the Wright Memorial Bridge on March 17, 2020. [Kari Pugh photo]

Dare County leaders have started discussions of a possible staged reopening of access to the Outer Banks in the near future that could follow similar guidelines to what state officials shared on Wednesday about restarting the economy.

The Town of Manteo has also decided to cancel the 2020 Dare Day celebration due to the uncertainties still surrounding the future and the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

There have been no changes in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Dare County over the past four days, according to Thursday’s bulletin from the Dare County Control Group.

Dare County remains at 15 positive test results. Of the 15 individuals who have tested positive, 13 have recovered/or are asymptomatically cleared (meaning they are seven days post testing with no symptoms), one is asymptomatic (meaning they have not experienced any COVID-19 symptoms), and one died.

In North Carolina, there are currently 5,465 cases of COVID-19 in 94 counties. There have been 131 fatalities in NC associated with COVID-19. Currently, the state is reporting 452 hospitalizations across the state from COVID-19 illness.

“With the economic hardships created by the COVID-19 crisis, many in the community are anxious for a timeline to establish expanded entry to the County. Dare County’s Stay Home – Stay Healthy order aligns with the Governor’s Stay at Home Order and is effective through April 29,” the control group’s news release stated.

The control group, made up of representatives of the local, state and federal government units that have authority in Dare County, will continue to have serious discussions about ways to most effectively balance the health of the community and the economic impacts, in order to make decisions that are in the best interest of all as the expiration of the closure order approaches.

It is likely that a staged entry process will be implemented to allow non-resident property owners entry before allowing entry to visitors, the control group said.

As decisions on entry are made, consideration is being given to the Governor’s actions regarding the state’s Stay at Home order, the scientific data including trends and models that are frequently changing, the capacity of local health providers, and the ability of local merchants to provide essential goods and services.

Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday said the state needs to make more progress in testing, tracing and trends, and that reopening North Carolina’s economy would have to be done in stages.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.