This past weekend, Deanna McElmon, owner of the GYM and Aquatic and Wellness Center in Cape Carteret made waves (pun intended) when she stood up and said “Yes” in contrast to Governor Cooper’s constant and repetitive refrain of “No.”

Ms. McElmon, along with hundreds of fitness centers, gymnasiums and similar studios statewide were blindsided by the governor’s last minute change of his Phase 2 opening mandates Wednesday denying them the opportunity to open. The GYM’s owner chose to ignore the mandate on the grounds that it was discriminatory and illegal. The following day Cape Carteret Police served Ms. McElmon a citation for failing to adhere to Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 141.

Other gyms and fitness centers across the state followed Ms. McElmon’s challenge of the executive order and have now prepared to sue the governor. They were not alone in displaying their frustration and dismissal of the governor’s executive orders. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians decided they too would ignore the governor’s negative and damaging mandates by visiting our beaches, attending public events and shopping without regard to physical restrictions such as social distancing.

We have noted in several recent editorials the governor’s lack of leadership. His communications are vague and dispiriting, showing no interest in listening to the needs and expectations of his constituents. Above all, he offers no positive solutions. His efforts to date can be best described as “hunker down and wait till the threat passes.”

This is not leadership - it is a de facto denial of responsibility.

As the senior elected state official, it is the governor’s job to represent all the citizens of the state and thus to be understanding and empathetic to their needs, something that is missing in all of his comments and actions to date.

Further, as the senior elected official it is his job to facilitate differing opinions among the numerous agencies he has appointed and to seek counsel from the legislature; again action that we have not seen.

 Above all it is the duty of the senior elected official to consider all of the needs and demands of his constituency, articulate plans that move forward through the threats– not stand stock still and await the passage of time.

Cooper served three terms as the state’s attorney general. He then chose to run for governor knowing full well that he would have to make decisions and address challenges. He is failing miserably, destroying the state’s economy and in the process lives and dreams of hundreds of small business owners.

Accompanying this editorial is an op-ed by John Hood of the John Locke Foundation that details the economic, social and now academic destruction that is the result of Governor Cooper’s failed leadership.

What the state needs is positive action from the state’s executive. Ms. McElmon’s actions Friday challenging the governor’s mandates, and the pending lawsuits, are indications that if positive leadership is not coming from the governor, she along with business leaders across the state will fill the void and provide positive alternatives.

A mass leadership effort, while a positive outcome, does not solve the problem that Governor Cooper continues to exhibit. If he is unwilling to show a positive way forward, then in November voters will need to consider changing course and electing a leader who knows that a positive response is more powerful than a negative, do-nothing response.


(24) comments


Ms. McElmon's actions constitute a violation / defiance of law and order, which you not only condone, but encourage others to follow. The proper, Constitutional, democratic way, of combating the government's proper and legal action is through the ballot box, not anarchy. We tried that a while ago and found it didn't work. Be a positive force by encouraging unity and all working peacefully together in the fight against the current crises. Urge all to display their support or not, of the governor's actions by making their voices heard via the November election. Not through the chaos and disorder you seemingly endorse .


If you really think this is chaos and disorder; just wait until the democrats start gun confiscation. Then you will see chaos and disorder.


Governor Cooper has been consistent in following a conservative approach to open the economy. We might have differing opinions and that is our right to do so. Compare NC numbers to our neighbors and other states up north. Look not only at "covid" deaths but all "excess" deaths over the past 3 months. You will see how well NC has managed to keep its citizens safe through the crisis so far. Some of our neighbors have not fared as well. Tennessee , S Carolina & Georgia have had a HUGE spike in pneumonia deaths compared to last year and annual averages ( excess deaths) which leads me to believe they have decided to re classify many covid deaths to manipulate statistics. Fact is the precautionary measures taken have certainly helped keep the virus at bay here in the east and Cooper is at last partly responsible for that. If he had acted differently and rushed to open nobody know how that would have affected the number of positive cases and deaths. So that leads us to the question we have heard over and over. What is the value of a single life, hundred lives or thousand lives ? So back to the gym defying the law shame on them. We don't have the right to break the law just because we don't agree with it. The owners are showing the selfishness and lack of consideration for the general population who choose not to trade off a few dollars for the lives of potential victims of the disease.


I have to disagree with both of the comments above. Kudos for the gym opening. What has happened is the Governor has overstepped his authority by dictating what business can and can not be open for business. The early closures were probably justified (maybe not needed) given the lack of data to keep the hospitals from being overrun. Now that this is past, it is well time to open up commerce. There is not reason to believe that going to the gym is more dangerous than going to the grocery store. I am sure that responsible business owners will act responsibility. There is no justification to allow Cooper to decide what business can or should be open now that more data is available. So go to the gym, sit on the beach, clearly go to church and go dine out. What we have now is clearly over the top in abuse of authority as we are seeing more and more every day in court rulings.


It is a fact that a gym is more likely to spread the virus than a grocery store. Since we know the spread is by transmission the person working out is more likely to breathing heavier than someone walking in a grocery store. We must be aware that first responders, medical staff and everyone we come in contact with have increased chances to contract the disease if we are not careful to avoid a spike by a few selfish people. I really don't care if the violators or protesters get sick it the ones they infect that are the concern.

David Collins

If you truly believe that the businesses that chose to reopen are in violation of anything then just do not patronize them . That is called exercising your freedom of choice . Yeah , it is just that simple . Of course frequenting the ABC stores , grocery stores and the big box stores is quite OK ! Obviously there are bad businesses and good businesses in this discussion . Aren’t there ?


You could be forgiven if you received a bad case of whiplash from reading this news times editorial. Laws are important to obey, unless they cause a inconvenience to me. All accounts to date show this virus transmission is increased by proximity, and time. Now I can see social distancing easily implemented at a outdoor pool. But in a gym with people breathing heavy for 30 minutes next to me on a bike or using weights? I don't think so.

If only the news times was equally courageous in calling out the lack of leadership in our bronzer-in-chief. The guy who could be encouraging Americans to do 3 things a 3 year old can figure out- wait 6 feet apart, wash hands, and wear a mask in crowded areas.

However, basic public health has been made into something "PC" and "tyranny".

C'mon news times. What's your solution?

David Collins

Patronized my local gym this morning . The facility has been thoroughly cleaned and repainted . The folks attending were very cognizant of distancing and wiping down everything they touched . Can not expect anything more from a facility , can you ? A little bit of common sense goes a long way in these times . Doesn’t it ?


Seems the best way to solve this bat or whatever virus research lab &/or wet market problem is to do away with the funding that support these type labs, eliminate if possible the labs themselves, get out & stay out of Communist China & keep them out of here.


So I guess my thought is if staying 6' away from people works, why do we have to wear a mask? Likewise, if the mask works, why do we need to stay 6' away? I may have missed something, but I dot recall that specific combination as the cureall. Also, data is heading towards confirming that the real risk is with older adults that have underlying medical problems. I fall into that category. However, i do not expect everyone around me to wear a mask and I certainly do not support forcing Americans to wear a mask. This has just gotten silly.


Here's my question if the face mask work then why are the people who are wearing them, so worried about the ones who are not? Next if a gym cant open how can a restaurant? And i think you will catch it quicker in a grocery store than in a gym! Most who go to the gym are in better health than the ones who dont! And how much is handled by people in a grocery store? Everyone touches everything. In a gym they actually wipe down the equipment all the time. I have not see anyone cleaning the tomatoes, or the meats where people pick it up and look at it and put it back down! Humm interesting!!

David Collins

It is an election year and that should speak volumes .

David Collins

Just made a run through The Boro . Jammed packed with vehicles , restaurants and tourist traps open and not a mask in sight . At least not from my vantage point . The lockdown appears to have been lifted , for now .


The rule of law is what separates us from tyranny and anarchy.

David Collins

I agree . Written and proven law , not phony laws by decree . Not politically driven temporary laws . Those are tools loved by despots world wide .


Does "freedom" mean you have the "right" to do what you want when you want? Doesn't it come with responsibility? For yourself, your family and friends, and your fellow Americans? The safety, health, and well being of "ALL" of us? Where is the boundary?

David Collins

The actual boundary is at the end of your nose , seeing that it is the part that sticks out the farthest . Get over it and do what you feel is best for you .


This sort of thing will continue to happen until we control our borders. Close the borders, keep out China, and restore national security, and we will see a much healthier U.S. Haven't we learned our lesson yet?

Livin in Paradise

What the heck does border control have to do with reopening a gym under a pandemic. The virus came to our shores from airports and movement of goods not from people illegally crossing our borders.

Carteret Native 01

Young'uns, there's some silly stuff being said here. I've never visited a gym that wasn't a little nasty, sweat dripping everywhere. Snot loosened by the workout warmth. Folks grunting and moaning and spraying droplets 15-20 feet or more. Thanks but I can walk, jog, run, bike and swim to stay fit and save lives. Defying the governor's orders is no less appropriate than looting a drug store. Sad day for America. Oh, and look out for all those Covid infected Chinese sneaking across the Rio Grande. Did I say silly?

David Collins

Actually most Chinese slip in by the way of our northern border with Canada . They try to avoid getting their backs wet .

Livin in Paradise

Is this supposed to be funny ?? Cause it's not. Hopefully this is nothing more than sarcasm, which sometimes is lost in a post.

David Collins

While the Governor can shut things down in a true emergency , equating going to a gym and looting is a bit of a stretch . Especially when all businesses are not being treated equally , not even close . ...

(Edited by staff.)

David Collins

Whatever you wish it to be . Could care less .

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