Local officials are not currently planning to issue a local shelter-at-home order.
Gov. Roy Cooper has not ordered North Carolina residents to shelter at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and the Pasquotank-Camden-Elizabeth City Emergency Management control group will likely follow Cooper’s lead.
The control group includes the county managers of Camden and Pasquotank counties, Elizabeth City’s mayor and city manager, the chairmen of the Pasquotank and Camden county board of commissioners and Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders.
Several counties in North Carolina, including the state’s largest in Mecklenburg, have issued shelter-at-home orders, but local officials say such an order here is not likely in the immediate future.
Mecklenburg’s order prohibits public and private gatherings of more than 10 people and closes most businesses for the next three weeks. However, certain businesses considered “essential” — grocery stores and pharmacies, for example — are permitted to stay open during the shelter-at-home order.
Mecklenburg residents who work at essential businesses may travel during the order, as long as they are headed to work or engaged in essential activities, such as seeking medical care or going to care for a friend or loved one. Other residents may also leave home to engage in essential activities. But most other travel in Mecklenburg is banned.
Other towns and counties that have issued stayat-home orders include Pitt County and the city of Greenville, the city of Durham, the town of Beaufort, and Madison County. Wake County’s shelter in place order takes effect on Friday while nearby Bertie County took steps on Thursday to have a shelter-in-place resolution take effect on Monday.
Officials in Pasquotank Camden and Elizabeth City don’t believe a local shelter-in-place order is needed right now.
“We had a discussion (Wednesday) with the control group and at this particular time we don’t see the need to do something that radical, yet,” said City Manager Rich Olson. “We would much rather follow the governor’s lead on something like this.’’
Pasquotank Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff Dixon said officials are constantly monitoring the spread of COVID-19 and any uptick in confirmed cases could result in additional social distancing measures.
“We don’t feel like it is necessary at this time due to the (low) number of (confirmed) cases in northeastern North Carolina,” Dixon said. “So far, in northeastern North Carolina, we have been fortunate. But I don’t think we have peaked yet. This is all new to us and hopefully we are making the right calls because we don’t have a book to go by.”
Currituck public information officer Randall Edwards said county officials there have not held any formal discussions regarding a local shelter-at-home order. The Currituck Board of Commissioners would be responsible for making any decision regarding a local shelter-at-home declaration.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid, rapidly-changing situation and the county will continue to consult with local health agencies and the state of North Carolina,” Edwards said. “There are no established parameters that would automatically trigger a shelter-in-place declaration.”
Pasquotank and Camden county officials also say that no one thing locally would trigger a local shelter-in-place order absent such an order by Cooper. The control group would work with the Albemarle Regional Health Services and local health providers, including Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, to determine if a local shelter-at-home order is needed.
“It would be a concerted effort by all parties involved with public health concerns,” Olson said.
Camden Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom White said that the public’s safety is the control group’s top concern.
“Things could change if it gets worse,” White said. “I think we have done a pretty good job of keeping people apart. We want to keep everybody safe.”