Currituck to allow access to non-resident property owners
Currituck commissioners, at their April 20 regular council meeting, instructed county manager Ben Stikeleather to draft a new emergency declaration that allows non-resident property owners county access effective 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 23.
After hearing a COVID-19 report from Albemarle Regional Health Services director Battle Betts and staff that area numbers appear to be leveling and the mortality rate may be lower than first thought, commissioners spent more than 30 minutes debating on when the Currituck Outer Banks should be opened to non-resident homeowners and other visitors.
Stikeleather pointed out that the county’s current emergency declaration limiting non-residents is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on April 30.
“As of May 1,” he continued, “if we don’t amend that declaration, anybody can come into the Currituck County Outer Banks assuming they can come through the Dare County checkpoint. So the discussion the Board needs to have tonight is on when non-resident property owners should come in and when should visitors come in.”
Chairman Bob White opened the discussion with a proposal that non-resident homeowners come in May 1 and other visitors two weeks later.
“I personally don’t see any reason why we couldn’t start phasing it in immediately,” responded Mary Etheridge.
As other commissioners chimed in with benefits of immediate access, Selina Jarvis asked why not lift the ban on non-resident homeowners Friday.
“Just because it is the first, doesn’t mean it’s the best day,” she said.
“That Washington study that Betts mentioned,” said Paul M. Beaumont, “glaringly points out that if you are over the age of 60 with compromised health, you are at risk for fatally contracting the COVID virus. With the exception of that, the study shows it is not nearly as lethal as first thought. And with more testing we may find that a lot of us had it and did not know it. We are not guaranteeing you will not come to Currituck and not get it. So as soon as we can get open.”
White said his conversations with Dare County were about opening things up May 1 and two weeks later let visitors in with a May 15 target date that can easily be changed if problems surface.
“Dare County is being much more cautious than we are,” said White. “We will need to clear this with them.”
“We are certainly dependent on Dare County,” added Etheridge.
In order for non-resident property owners to access Corolla, an appropriate Currituck County entry permit must be displayed at the Wright Memorial Bridge law enforcement checkpoint. Each vehicle must have a permit to be allowed through the checkpoint.
Because local grocery stores may not be fully stocked, everyone is encouraged to bring their own food and other supplies and be prepared to follow the directive from NC Governor Roy Cooper on social distancing and limit public groups to no more than 10 people.
In other board discussion, May 15 was set as a tentative date for allowing other visitors to access Corolla. That date which is subject to change will be reviewed during the May 4 commissioners meeting.
In other business for the evening, Betts advised during his report that over the weekend there was an increase in lab confirmed positive cases in congregate care facilities, especially in Pasquotank County, that resulted from inmates being transferred there prior to April 7. He added that the North Carolina Division of Public Health has prioritized testing in congregate care facilities and as more testing efforts are ramped up there would likely be more positive numbers but that that could allow for better isolation efforts. He said also that there could be a large percent of cases circulating in the community asymptomatically.
Current figures show that Currituck County had two lab confirmed cases, both have recovered, with 85 in the eight county ARHS region. Of those 43 are active, 40 have recovered and there have been two deaths.
Betts encouraged citizens to be vigilant in practicing preventive and safety measures that will help prevent the spread of the virus and prevent the spread of COVID-19 with precautions that include:
– Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
– Stay home when you are sick.
– Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
– Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
– Practice social distancing; avoid handshakes, hugs and other close contact.
Additional COVID-19 information can be found at:
– Albemarle Regional Health Services – https://www.arhs-nc.org/ or 252-338-WELL (9355)
– Center for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/
– North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services – https://www.ncdhhs.gov/
During her commissioner’s report, Mary Etheridge advised that Currituck resident Mary Kate Morgan was awarded the North Carolina State University Mathews Medal, a program that recognizes graduating seniors who have significant contributions to the school and is the highest non-academic distinction awarded to students who serve their university.
Commissioners also approved personnel policy revisions for sick leave and retiree health insurance, authorized staff to look into a Grandy Road property exchange proposal, rescheduled a Baxter Station planned development public hearing for May 4 and, sitting as the Ocean Sands Water and Sewer District Board, moved $4,000 between accounts to cover system supplies.
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