[This post has been updated to include the Governor’s response.]
The Gaston County Board of Commissioners has decided all local businesses will be allowed to re-open after 5 p.m. today.
Chairman Tracy Philbeck says the one-size-fits-all approach to the COVID-19 crisis is creating more harm than good for Gaston County residents.
“Our goal was to make sure our hospital system was not overwhelmed,” Philbeck said. “We’ve done that. Why punish us for being successful in flattening the curve when a strict Stay at Home order no longer makes sense for our county?”
Governor Cooper had extended the state’s stay-at-home measure through May 8th, saying the state still needed to keep a careful watch on the daily trends and adjust accordingly.
The Republican-led board says they are not in lock-step with the Cooper administration, but will continue to promote social distancing and disinfection recommendations.
Here’s more from the so-called ‘Gaston Promise‘ released on Wednesday:
….we support putting our citizens back to work and allowing them to worship corporately, both of which are their constitutional rights. In fact, we are reminded by Article I, Section 13 of our North Carolina Constitution, that “all persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”Worship –whether by oneself or corporately –is an inalienable right of the people.
Furthermore, it is no coincidence that our State’s founders listed the following atop all the rights guaranteed to North Carolinians in our Constitution’s Declaration of Rights: “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.”Work –whether at home or at one’s business –is also an inalienable right of the people.
Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen has rejected a county-by-county approach on lifting restrictions, noting that the virus does not respect county boundaries.
As of Wednesday, Gaston County had recorded 137 positive cases of COVID-19 and three deaths. North Carolina has surpassed 10,000 positive cases.
This afternoon, Gov. Cooper’s office issued the following response to the Gaston County action:
“This order’s only effect is to create confusion during a public health emergency, which is dangerous. The Gaston County order itself says that the statewide Stay At Home order remains in effect, and state leaders urge people to continue following it.”