Resolution on tap about state COVID-19 response

Published 12:36 pm Saturday, April 18, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

One Beaufort County commissioner wants state government to know how local government feels about the decision to shut down parts of the North Carolina economy in response to COVID-19.

Commissioner Stan Deatherage made a pitch to members of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to make a resolution as to how the response to coronavirus was handled in North Carolina — first shutting down schools then businesses — without a vote from the Council of State.

“I’m not going to argue whether it was right or wrong. I’m going to argue we need to have a response for this if it ever happens again, and I think it will,” Deatherage said.

Deatherage said North Carolinians and Americans as a whole have been failed by the state government, federal government and corporate interests, who have moved pharmaceutical and medical equipment production overseas, which has impacted response to the virus itself.

“There’s absolutely no way we can survive as a nation if we shut down the economy like we have this time,” Deatherage said.

Deatherage said local governments should speak out about the need to ensure infrastructure/equipment is available for rapid testing of the virus in order to prevent future economic shutdowns.

Deatherage requested a committee be formed to create a resolution by email, find concurrence in a resolution, which would then be sent to other county boards across the state, as well as to the governor and the General Assembly. However, the board creating such a document by email violates open meetings law. Commissioner Hood Richardson pointed out that Deatherage could write something up himself and lobby fellow commissioners, instead.

“I’m very sympathetic to what he’s talking about. I think government has been unusually heavy-handed in all this,” Richardson said, adding that he is of the age that’s disproportionately affected by COVID-19. “There’s no evidence in North Carolina to justify what’s been done so far.”

Richardson said, historically, the way such diseases as scarlet fever have been handled is through selective quarantining.

Commissioner Jerry Langley said he believed the stay-at-home order the state is under is “not etched in stone.”

“If this thing turns around as you say, certainly, I would say, ( would rescind the order,” Langley said. “I think probably by the time we meet again this may be a moot point.”

Ultimately, a vote was made to table a resolution until the next meeting in May. Commissioners Ed Booth, Jerry Evans, Jerry Langley and Frankie Waters voted for it; Deatherage, John Rebholtz and Richardson voted against.