Thursday, 02 April 2020 19:48

Another COVID-19 case misidentified as Richmond County; 2 boards cancel meetings

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Another COVID-19 case misidentified as Richmond County; 2 boards cancel meetings Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — Despite showing up on a map produced by the New York Times, Richmond County has yet to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The map and a table on the newspaper’s website showed that there was one case here late Wednesday. However, it has since been corrected.

In his daily update, Health and Human Services Director Dr. Tommy Jarrell noted that 226 county residents have been tested. The 148 test results that have so far been returned have all been negative.

Jarrell told the RO that the tests are being performed at different labs and most test results come back within seven to 10 days, but some could take up to two weeks.

On Wednesday, local health officials caught the third mis-attribution — another case from Montgomery County had been labeled as Richmond County. 

“We knew from the address that it wasn’t in Richmond County,” Jarrell said.

He added that they had to confirm the case with Montgomery County officials and then contact the state to make the correction, which was done before the numbers went out.

The reason for the three-time mix-up, he said, was because there are some areas of Richmond County that share a Zip code with Montgomery.

County health officials are supposed to be notified immediately if a case is positive for the coronavirus, he said. As of 5 p.m., there were none.

Jarrell also stressed that there is no curfew in Richmond County and travel documents are not needed here.

OFFICE CLOSINGS AND MEETING CANCELLATIONS

Two municipal boards in Richmond County are canceling their April meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rockingham City Manager Monty Crump sent out a memo just before noon Thursday announcing several measures being taken “to further comply with current stay at home restrictions and to balance the need of protecting city employees and their families while still maintaining a functioning city workforce to serve and preserve the safety, health and welfare of all our citizens.”

The following measures go into effect Monday, April 6:

1) The regular scheduled April 14, 2020 City Council meeting is cancelled and all items of business will be handled at the next meeting of the City Council. 

2) Rockingham City Hall will be fully open for all business Monday through Thursday from the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with all current access restrictions still in place. City Hall will be closed on Fridays in an effort to allow those employees to have three consecutive days weekly to stay at home. The drive-in window will remain open to accept all payments during amended hours. Additionally, all city payments due are accepted by U.S. Mail, by phone with credit/debit cards with fees waived and drop box is available for after hour payments seven days a week. 

3) All utility billing will continue as normal, however, by executive order, disconnections for non payment are suspended until June 1, 2020 with no assessment of late fees for that period. Utility billing will continue and the executive order does not relieve the customer of responsibility to pay any amount accrued during period of no disconnection of service. The city will work with any affected customer to make adjusted payments for a period of up to six months.

 4) Permitting and building inspections will continue based on City Hall schedule and at other times at the discretion of the building inspector and needs of a contractor or job site.

5) All 24-hour-a-day municipal operations — which includes Police, Fire, Water Treatment and Wastewater Treatment — will remain on normal schedules. 

6) All Public Works/Parks and Recreation operations will continue to operate daily to meet operational efficiencies meaning that once daily essential duties are complete employees will be allowed to go home and stay in place. 

7) Sanitation services will continue on current normal five-day-a-week schedule. 

8) All on call Public Works personnel will remain available to handle after hour issues. 

9) All Rockingham Parks and Recreation trails and open space areas will remain open to the public as long as social distancing guidelines are observed. Those guidelines require 6 feet of distancing between persons.

Crump concluded with the following message: 

“It is currently projected that COVID-19 cases in North Carolina may peak around April 22, 2020,”. There is growing evidence nationwide that until a vaccine and accepted treatment therapies are in place, social distancing obtained by adhering to stay in place orders are the most effective way to prevent/slow (Covid-)19.

Please make the decision to be a part of the solution, use common sense and always be mindful of the possible presence of COVID 19 in every aspect of life and act accordingly. Public compliance with stay at home orders (is) critical in (keeping) from overwhelming our health-care system and compromising the safety and welfare of our frontline health care providers, first responders and other public servants. 

It is essential that these critical infrastructure systems and those who run them remain intact and they are depending on all of us to do our part. Their lives depend on it and so does yours. It is the least that we can do for these courageous health care providers and first responders who are risking their personal welfare and lives every hour to serve you in this time of crisis.”

Mayor Fred Cloninger also announced Thursday that the Ellerbe town meeting would be canceled, after initially moving the date to later in the month.

“With the governor’s new order of no more than 10 in a group, we wanted to set a good example for our citizens,” Cloninger said. “I have (been) in contact with some people at the UNC School of Government and their opinion is we should cancel and there won’t be any ramifications from not having a monthly meeting as required by state law.”

Cloninger added that the next meeting is scheduled for May 4 and town leaders will be working on having a remote meeting “if having one in person is not possible.

That’s exactly what the Richmond County Board of Education is doing for its next meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Jeff Maples said the board will be conducting the meeting using Zoom, an app that many organizations have been using to communicate during the shutdown.

Other boards are going ahead with their meetings as well.

“We have to present the budget and postpone a public hearing, but that’s it,” Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless said, adding no visitors will be admitted.

Norman Mayor Tonia Collins said her town board plans to meet next Monday at 7 p.m.

The April meeting for the Richmond County Board of Commissioners is also still on, according to County Manager Bryan Land. He said Courtroom A “allows for considerable space to social distance.”

Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue said that, as of now, the town is still planning to meet, but the time has been moved to 11 a.m.

In Hoffman, Mayor Tommy Hart said the town is also planning to meet at its normal time of 7 p.m.

Both Hart and Blue said they have enough to allow a few members of the public inside, but will adhere to the governor’s mass gathering limit of 10.

Hart said the town has also closed its park to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The N.C. DMV license plate office in Rockingham will be closed Monday, April 6 through Friday, April 17 “due to health and safety concerns,” according to the state website. However, the office will still accept dealer work by appointment.

The current plan is to reopen on April 20. But in the meantime, online services are available at MyNCDMV.gov. 

The Foster Parent and Caregiver Support Group meeting scheduled for April 9 has also been canceled. For more information on that, contact Suzanne Maness at 910-627-1769, toll free 877-211-5995 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2020 19:54