The question of the day is “How much longer will we need to keep COVID-19 measures?” The answer is we don’t know. With access to some better data from limited testing, we may be able to start relaxing measures but for the foreseeable future, we will need to continue social distancing and hygiene measures to counter this invisible threat. In summer 2020, I can’t imagine being able to safely accommodate crowded, large-scale events like we typically host in Beaufort.

I have reviewed many best practice articles for COVID-19 recovery to include the president’s “Opening Up America Again” and Governor Cooper’s recent “Testing, Tracing, and Trends” summary. Unfortunately, there are not enough kits available for the large-scale testing (both diagnostic and antibody) needed to effectively combat the virus. No vaccine is on the horizon. Today, because of limited testing capability, only severe cases are tested, so the number of positive cases should be considered an absolute minimum. Mild or asymptomatic cases go untested. Tracing means identifying those that are positive and determining who they have been in contact with. Trends are used to find the decreasing daily rates of the virus (and associated deaths) that would indicate success in this fight.  

In Beaufort, we incrementally implemented our COVID-19 measures to flatten the curve and protect our many vulnerable citizens. We are in close contact with medical professionals and scientists to constantly evaluate the threat, and we also want to ensure our hospital has the capacity to handle a COVID-19 outbreak. Our COVID-19 measures are inconvenient…for me, for you, for all of us. These are imperfect measures to counter the extraordinary challenges of a global pandemic, and we are provided very little information at a municipal level to guide our decisions. Due to medical privacy concerns, we are not told the number or location of positive cases in and around our community. That location information is kept by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the County Health Department, and not disseminated to municipalities.

So far, the cases in our county appear manageable, and our county medical professionals have performed brilliantly. Across the state, there remain big challenges. Positive cases and deaths continue to increase, and the Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, is not seeing a peak yet.  

Over the next few weeks, if the county case load continues manageable and the N.C. rate of positives decreases, we will incrementally start relaxing restrictions. Our measures are currently (and legally) more restrictive than the governor’s so at a minimum, we can reduce ours to match those of the governor’s executive orders. But we also must be prepared to re-implement measures if an outbreak occurs in the future.

As in any crisis, there have been many lessons learned. At a state level, we must do better at getting data to officials who make key decisions. A pandemic demands improved data distribution. At a county level, the 11 municipalities of Carteret County must be part of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). There has not been a single meeting that involved the EOC and elected officials from all municipalities. Efforts by mayors to be part of a county-wide emergency operations team have been rejected by Carteret County officials. This limited construct was readily apparent during Hurricanes Florence and Dorian, but we worked through it. In this long-term pandemic and for future crises, the lack of teamwork must change.  

So what keeps me awake at night? First, not knowing who is positive in our town and surrounding area. It would be naïve to think the virus is not in our town. Second, our business community is struggling and we will need to rebuild our economy as quickly as possible. This is not unique to Beaufort (or Carteret County) but deeply personal none-the-less. Finally, there are many families that don’t have food. We knew there was a deep socio-economic divide in Carteret County. Hurricane Florence exposed it, Hurricane Dorian widened it, and this pandemic has expanded the divide even more. For those that want to help, please provide support to the Carteret County Public School Foundation, the Boys and Girls Clubs, Backpack Buddies programs, and your local food bank. Hunger is no longer a hidden secret. It is right here in Carteret County and we need to support those in need.

The author is a Beaufort native, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, fourth-year Duke PhD student, and, since 2017, the Mayor of Beaufort.

(32) comments

DeadBolt

I have a THEORY, and i truly think some people have a real issue, no it's not what you mention. The truth is that the vast majority in this country has been 'exposed' to what your continuing to utter , for quite some time. YOU ARE THE CHAP WHO INSISTED THAT THE PEOPLE CLOSE THEIR LIVES DOWN, AND BECOME HERMITS, So, i personally WANT THE NAMES POSTED OF WHOM TOLD YOU TO ENACT THESE MEASURES? WHERE IS ALL OF YOUR VISUAL EVIDENCE? Please PRESENT THIS. You are a hack, with nothing better to do then cause a fear by continuing to spread rumors, and its honestly PATHETIC. The only way to make this somewhat right for you, and EVERY SO CALLED LEADER IS FOR YOU TO TURN YOUR GUNS ON THE ONES WHOM WERE INVOLVED IN THIS SHAM, AND AMERICA WILL DECIDE. If you continue upon this message line, well, the outcome is going to suit the CRIME, you decide. Show us the money there chap!

David Collins

There , now you have it ! Nothing in that op-Ed that frightens me and seems quite logical . Please remember that your constitutional rights extend as far as the end of your nose but do allow one to make bad choices . That’s it . The Mayor was elected to serve and protect , I hope , and appears to be doing just that . That with military precision , I might add . If things work out then he has succeeded . If not , oh well , not for lack of trying . Pretty sure we all saw the clips on the news about what happened when officials relented and opened those Florida beaches . Sure , that thundering herd of beach goers were doing the right thing . Sure they were , anyway we will surely know in a week or so if this was misguided or not . Any bets ? Don’t become a statistic and do your best to act responsibly . This too will pass . Be a part of things when it does .

sonsofPepe

" . . . protect our many vulnerable citizens . . ." those magic words used to justify suppression of rights and ruing the economy. Residents of Beaufort, please vote out this wannabe dictator Newton out of office.

PR

Thank You!

OldCaper

I understand the temporary restrictions on personal Liberty in the name of personal safety but true leadership in times like these require thoughtful decisions that fairly impact all residents and business. There was no good reason to move access from hwy 101 other than to convenience some and inconvenience many and why may I ask are the exits blocked as well? All exits from Beaufort could have been left open, after all aren't we trying to control access to the town? Controlling access for a few days with ID's and blocking all exits but one puts undo hardship on most residents with "no added value in protecting them". People are smarter than you may think. PPE is the key to opening small business now before irreparable damage is done and Beaufort is changed forever.

Mitch112

I've lived downcast for 20 years. I love Carteret county and support my small businesses as much as possible. I thank mayor, Governor and President Trump for updates. I might not like what we need to do but I am glad these leaders are being safe than sorry. Open up Carteret county as soon as safe.

CaptainParker

The South’s best small town, dubbed that by Southern Living, is paying an extraordinary price for the overzealous efforts by its mayor to shield it from harm. When the first guidance came down relative to social distancing and hygiene, virtually everyone was on board and accepted their personal responsibility to safeguard themselves. When the govenor and mayor took it further, closing businesses, churches, gatherings , events, etc, they sucked the vitality out of the town and economy, and with it the dreams and aspirations of its citizens.

Carteret County comprises almost 1,400 square miles and has a half dozen active cases. Are you serious? You construct barricades and shut down the town? You destroy an economy, people’s lives, and a town’s reputation for that? For all your education and experience, you couldn’t manage a two seat outhouse! Please resign and hide in shame.

Erasmus

I’ve seen several comments about rights being trampled, ‘abuse of the constitution’, etc.

It is restrictive and difficult to impose limits on entry into and out of town, and having an impact on people’s livlihoods,but taking a leadership role involves tough decisions that will be unpopular.

I’d remind everyone to demonstrate respect when making comments-our mayor is working with explicit goal of keeping us all alive. If you disagree, do so in a responsible manner.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

There is a correlation between unpopular and violation of citizens basic rights. The manner in which we disagree in in proportion to how important the issue.

Buddy Boatbuilder

Everette’s assertion regarding the legality of his checkpoint is simply wrong. Is it ignorance or an attempt to manipulate the public and double down on a bad action? The law requires that there be a strong basis for such a measure. That basis does not exist in Beaufort nor in Carteret county at present. Claiming a lack of information provided and poor communication with the county does not refute that fact. You can certainly try a “we didn’t know so we did something” defense in a court… Isolation and quarantine measures are only constitutional when shown by clear and compelling evidence that they are the least restrictive means of protecting the public’s health. That is obviously not the case here. The most comparable cases brought before the courts, as recently as 2019, have been found unlawful. It is appalling to see 1st amendment, 4th amendment, 5th amendment etc. rights being violated in Beaufort. Denying non-resident property owners access to their properties without compensation is a most fundamental violation of the takings clause. To assert that it is legal, is simply wrong. The Dare county case will reflect that, if not other cases directed squarely at Beaufort and the mayor.

Having said that, we should all exercise the compassion Governor Cooper has called for in looking out for (and social distancing from) our neighbors. We need to take this virus seriously, but we don’t need to destroy Beaufort and discard the American freedoms many a soldier has died for to do that.

kenwood

What the mayor said makes sense, though it is / will be painful for us all. On the other hand, some of the raving attack dogs seem unbalanced.

JusticeForAll

If you are not adhering to our constitutional rights, you are dismissing all the sacrifices that great people, of this nation, have made for this country. The proven and solid direction of this nation lies with the constitution. Emotion can not be allowed drive us into irrational or knee jerk reactions.

DeadBolt

Facebook Is BANNING Lockdown Protests At Governments Request As Drones Are Deployed To Spy On Us [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMCfHMjyROY ] Here goes another liberty. (keep letting these tossers walk on ya). And, all of you who 'temporarily' don't mind losing your liberties, well, maybe this time only the liberators will help themselves? Now, can someone show me DIRECT EVIDENCE of this CHINESE DISEASE? Waiting , with the crickets. [yawn]

Felix

You need to get some help.

DeadBolt

CNN Claims Cuomo "Emerges" From Lockdown, They Are Evil And Liars He Was NOT Locked down And We KNOW [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no4H6zPhTd4 ] [whistling]

Vintage Chief

I think a better question of the day is: "Under what authority (site the statute) are you (Mayor of The Town Of Beaufort, NC) provided the ability to install checkpoints and allow only citizens of Carteret County to enter the Town Of Beaufort?" Please reference the statute which provides the Mayor of the Town Of Beaufort, NC this authority. Thank You.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The mayor isn't into answering our questions.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Any leadership position entails the right person, with the right background, with the right understanding of the problem, with the right understanding of the law, at the right time. I don't think we have that in Beaufort. The writer gives us a job history. A military colonel understands things of the officer core of his respective branch. He has some college degree, but in this case not of medicine or health care. He is used to giving orders of which subordinates are compelled to comply by the UCMJ. He cites a Beaufort native, but lived somewhere else for over 20 years or so. He was a local high school basketball hero, and was well liked by most of his peer group. I knew him as a "go along to get along" type person. I don't see him as a person qualified to make decisions regarding our freedoms, health, or mass care. A person such as this must have an identifiable background in the subject matter at hand. This is not the case here. Presumably, the mayor consulted with qualified others in decision making. This would logically center on experts in the subject matter; the virus at hand, epidemiology, history, law, and psychology (the affects on the people, their reaction, and compliance). Consulting other politicians and readings won't do this. He states he has been in close contact with "medical professionals and scientists". This is a very broad group indeed. There are agendas afoot as well. Many don't associate the mayor as having any particular authority. Now we see what can happen. We must keep this in mind for future elections. Most mayors are little more than token positions. We already have and pay a town manager. The specific sources of counsel should be identified to the citizens, their recommendations, and their credentials. Further, we must do backgrounds on candidates for office here. They should have to answer specific questions relative to their office. In this case, the candidate should be made to address at least the first 14 Amendments to our Constitution, be given specific situations and their responses to each, and their personal and professional positions on each. They should cite any experience relative to these items, and how they would apply to their office. We should have an idea of what kind of person we are voting for relative to issues that affect or could affect our lives and freedoms. This is basic. A military rank does not justify or substitute for this. We must be able to screen for tyrants, agendas, and have a history to hold the candidate accountable. We do background checks on every manner of job applicant. We cannot just kick the tires in an election. Better to have no one, than a bad candidate. The voters should have a option to vote for none of the above. A sole candidate should not mean automatic election to office. This gives citizens the ability to reject any candidate, or have no one at all. It is their choice as citizens. I suggest a standard battery of questions for each position, the answers made public. There should be public question and answer meetings with candidates several times, debates if more than one candidate. Too many assumptions are made about candidates for office, and must stop. Assume nothing. We are at a dangerous edge in our history, where rights are so easily suspended, some by well meaning but inexperienced government officials and some by those with hidden agendas. We have a mechanism for making public policy, that power is not vested in one person. We must do a better job of vetting our elected officials.

David Collins

It is over , go forth and infect grasshopper .

SandFiddler

Regarding Carteret County and the EOC comments, it's not surprising the county "officials" want to minimize COVID-19 discussions. Afterall, Memorial Day weekend isn't far away. I'm sure they're scratching their heads and crotches over that dilemna; so they'll have even less time to discuss things with town officials. As Mayor Newton pointed out, a "pandemic" should include "improved data distribution" with the key words being "pandemic" and "should". I suspect if this nasty, evil virus were to hit "close to home" , then the woulda, coulda, shoulda meetings will take place.

After the BDA put the squeeze on the mayor to close the checkpoints, his efforts to contain the virus went down the pipes with one big flush ( does everyone across the bridge hear the cha ching of the sewer bill increases?) The mayor will probably never know the number of active cases in his town and/or the rest of Carteret County. The county says their case numbers "underrepresent the spread of the virus in this community" .

Perhaps one should put their money where their mouth is if they are indeed concerned about "families that don't have food" and the "deep socio-economic divide" within their community. Why not give your Beaufort citizens a break on their water bills for a couple of months? Those families would then have money for real food instead of standing in line at food pantries (with no social distancing) waiting for loaves of molded, outdated bread, outdated canned goods and a bag of rice that the mayor himself would probably never consider eating.

David Collins

Counties are always going to play up a crisis . It is all about funding . You know , the squeaky wheel and the grease sort of thing . With that said , I am quite sure there are many unreported cases amongst the shadow economy . The cash only shadow economy is as well represented as ever when I stop by the local Speedway for my morning coffee .

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The good mayor and his family own a good size chunk of Ann/Orange street. Of course his military 0-6 retirement check keeps coming; maybe he would donate that to those who aren't getting any pay right now? I won't hold my breath. It is easy to make restrictions that don't affect you in any way. Maybe if the government suspended the pay of government and retired government workers during this time, the pain would be equal. Especially among those same ordering businesses to close, folks to stay home.

Mr. Tom Slick

Yes, i have said that for years, the retirement pay for some folks are more than most folks that actually do get up and go to work on a daily basis....

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The "experts" have no idea how many Covid19 cases there are. Additionally how data is presented, and interpreted affects public policy. For example, Death Rates often cited are really Case Fatality Rate (CFR), or the number of deaths per positive cases. Mortality Rates are the number of deaths per entire population. Playing with words yields more easy public panic. The predictions by the World Health Organization (WHO) were wildly inaccurate at best. These were now seen to be based on inaccurate modeling since testing was so limited. One study indicates that underreporting of cases by a factor of 50-85 likely. The true number of positive cases could be upwards of 35 to 60 million. Worst of all this make-things-up-as-you-go attitude by bureaucrats and the media feeds public hysteria, and some governors and mayors. This doesn't happen in a vacuum, as there are political motivations afoot as well, besides ignorance. Stanford researchers Bendavid and Bhattacharya suggested the known cases were a tiny fraction of the actual number. With at least 990,000 infections, the number of cases in March was 13,677, more than 72 fold lower. This implies a mortality rate of 0.01% nationally. This is one-tenth of the flu mortality rate of 0.1%. Others report a true mortality rate between .12 and .20%. Thus, clearly, we see vast over-reaction of local and state officials. One has to ask why this is the case?

Vintage Chief

I am impressed CARTERETISCORRUPT, you've done your homework and you understand the numbers. Well stated.

I just wrote this comment on a YouTube posting of: NY Gov. Cuomo On 'Surprising' Result Of Coronavirus Antibody Test | MSNBC

"This is not unexpected news to those of us who have worked w/in the fields of immunology, virology & microbiology for the greater majority of our lives - it is expected. The news media, the POTUS, the CDC, etc. have politicized this and the news media has failed to report on solid scientific evidence of facts from the fields of immunology, virology & microbiology. They have failed to interview the appropriate academicians & researchers. The research data for the most part has been there all along. Historical analysis of related positive-sense RNA coronavirus's was well established prior to the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2. It was already established (January 2020) in peer-reviewed scientific journals, etc. the R0 (contagious factor) of SARS-CoV-2 was less than SARS (CoV-1) and well below that of MERS. The most significant failure in the U.S.A. was & has been from the very onset of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) - and, I do want to be crystal clear on this - the absolute complete failure by the U.S.A. government to (1) develop and circulate a monoclonal Ab (antibody) test against SARS-CoV-2; and, (2) begin testing EVERYONE w/in the entire U.S.A. population at the very onset of COVID-19 (back in January, if not earlier) - not simply those deemed to have been infected & requiring supportive medical care. Hands-down, testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S.A. was a complete and total failure from the absolute start. We already new the genomic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in late December and early January. The call-to-arms never occurred because our scientific community was being controlled by the likes of medical practitioners and medical personnel at the FDA & the CDC who lack the appropriate scientific background to make the appropriate scientific decisions. They failed to bring this knowledge to the forefront because of the political/administrative inefficiencies w/in the departments of these two primary organizations. Creation of a monoclonal Ab against SARS-CoV-2 is "ROUTINE" scientific research - it is NOT anything we were incapable of producing. Instead, the CDC & FDA chose to use an in-house laboratory method (rtPCR) as the definitive test for SARS-CoV-2. This was a 100% complete failure by the U.S.A. FDA & CDC agencies. I am actually astounded and ashamed with the manner in which our scientific agencies responded (or, I should say did NOT respond) to this situation. Deplorable, very, very deplorable."

CaptainParker

The bridge is open, but the Mayor’s boot still lies firmly on the neck of Beaufort citizens as he drones on about pandemic models and cases and testing. Blah, blah....This ain’t New York.

“The excuse for the destruction of liberty, is always the plea of necessity”

~Milton Friedman

CARTERETISCORRUPT

The excuse for the destruction of liberty, is always the plea of necessity. That really sums it up. Thank you CaptainParker.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

I see now some former Beaufort resident wants a U.S. Air Force flyover of Beaufort to honor our great mayor. Maybe to honor his very short term as mayor. Really folks!

CARTERETISCORRUPT

Let us not forget the request for the Air Force to fly over Beaufort in honor of our great mayor and commissioners. Have we lost our minds? We are trillions in debt more.

dc

FEMA will pay the tab. Fly over priorities are right up there with sand.

CARTERETISCORRUPT

More states and locales are rising up in resistance to these draconian orders. Sanity is slowly coming back to citizens.

dc

Hope they don't forget between now & election day. Also, hope they understand liberal Ds (i.e. socialists) get elected when conservative Rs stay home.

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.