It was something akin to what one might expect from a crowd at the Olympics. They carried American flags and shouted "freedom!" and "U-S-A!" The protests over COVID-19 restrictions continued Tuesday. In Raleigh, as North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry held a briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic, a large group of protestors gathered outside the capitol pushing for the end to restrictions designed to slow the spread of the disease.
One of the speakers used a bullhorn to shout: "I dare you to disobey; open your businesses!" They carried signs that proclaimed "Give me liberty or give me death!" and "I demand my inalienable rights!" (Apparently some have confused the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence; it was the declaration, which has no legal bearing, that spoke of inalienable rights.)
Among those in the crowd in Raleigh were a group of Lincoln Countians who made the trip to join in the protest. Some of them are members of a Facebook group that calls itself ReOpen Lincoln County. The group claims 509 members as of Tuesday afternoon. The group is private, meaning only members can see who's in the group and what they post. Tommy Smith, Lynn Anderson Nichols, Erin Daniel, Chappy Kevin Pitts and Heather Withers are listed as administrators. Robin Padgett is listed as a moderator. Withers created the group about a week ago.
They are planning a protest, which they're calling a 'community assembly event' for this Saturday (May 2nd) from 11 AM - 2 PM in downtown Lincolnton. Their post about the event says its purpose is for gathering to petition for the opening on a county level. The post maintains that social distancing will be maintained. That was certainly not the case in Raleigh Tuesday afternoon, wher most of the demonstrators were standing well within the suggested six-feet separation and most were not wearing masks.
Lincoln & Gaston County Commissioners' request for localized controls over restrictions were addressed indirectly by the Governor Tuesday. In response to a question about Carteret County reopening its beaches, he said that they can do that--but they need to maintain some controls including social distancing. As for localizing restrictions, he noted that some people live in one county, work in another and shop in yet another. "People cross county lines. The coronavirus doesn't recognized county boundaries." Cooper said he and others will be looking at possible regional relaxation in the restrictions between now and the end of the current stay-at-home period on May 8th.
The ReOpen NC group has splinter groups in all 100 counties. Formed on April 7th, it claims 70,000 members.
There are two Facegroup groups with the moniker "Reopen Gaston County." One of them claims 787 members, but it's a closed group and posts can only be seen by those who are members. Not wishing to be a member, I can't tell you much more than that. The other is public. It currently has only 35 members.
Much of what is happening should have been expected. America was, after all, born out of a revolt against the standing government. The 'cowboy' mentality of many Americans has deep roots in the fact that Americans differ from most of the rest of the world in that we (or should I say, many of us) value individual freedoms more than the public good. We consider the rights of the individual greater than the well-being of society as a whole.
While the debate over reducing restrictions continues, so does the pandemic. Here are the latest figures:
As of Monday afternoon (April 27th), 697 tests had been completed in Lincoln County. Of those, 667 were negative. Of the 26 positive tests, 18 have since recovered, leaving 8 known active cases. Four people were still awaiting results of their test as of Monday. So far, Lincoln County has not recorded a death from COVID-19 and while we've had 26 confirmed positive cases, none of them has had to be hospitalized.
Gaston County reported 1872 tests as of Tuesday. 1606 of those tested negative. 116 who had tested positive have now recovered; there are currently 22 known active cases in Gaston County. Gaston has recorded three fatalities.
Cleveland County has had 46 confirmed cases according to the NCDHHS. There have been two fatalities in Cleveland County. The Cleveland County Health Dept. website was (often is) inaccessible (apparently they've been hacked).
Catawba County added one new case Tuesday, meaning 54 positive tests total. Of those, 35 have now recovered. Catawba County has had one fatality due to COVID-19.
Mecklenburg County has now had 1519 confirmed positive tests, 37 new ones since Monday. 43 people have died there due to the virus including two more since Monday.
North Carolina has now had 9568 positive tests. 342 people have died in our state, including 36 more deaths reported since Monday. 463 remain hospitalized.
Nationally, the death toll is now 58,568. Worldwide, it's 216,508. Of the cases that are considered closed, 81% of those who were infected and tested positive have recovered, while 19% have died. Of the tested positive cases, just under 7% have died. In the US, 5.69% of the tested positive cases have died. [US cases tested positive=1,029,179; deaths=58,568; recovered=140,138; hospitalized in serious or critical condition=14,868.]
Kintegra Health will continue its testing program in Gastonia on Wednesday. While the tests are being done in Gastonia, Kintegra will test anyone who makes an appointment regardless of their residency. The tests are, however, intended only for those who have reason to believe they might have COVID-19: people with a body temperature of 100.4 or greater, experiencing a dry cough or other symptoms. To make an appointment to be tested (required) call 704-874-3316.
The schedule Wednesday-Friday:
- Wednesday, April 29th - at the Gaston County Health Department, 991 W. Hudson Blvd. (Kintegra also has an office there.)
- Thursday, April 30th - at the Bradley Community Center, 1200 N. Modena St.
- Friday, May 1st – at Mt. Zion Restoration Church, 2311 Crescent Lane (off Myrtle School Rd.