Growing number of NC counties issue ‘shelter in place’ or ‘stay at home’ orders amidst COVID-19 outbreak

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, more places in North Carolina have issued shelter in place or stay at home orders.

Gov. Roy Cooper said he Monday he was not issuing a stay at home order, but the situation is “constantly evolving.”

RELATED: Durham city officials expected to announce ‘stay at home’ order

Tuesday officials in Mecklenburg County issued a “stay at home order” effective Thursday, March 26 at 8:00 a.m. The order requires residents to remain in their homes for 21 days.

Pitt and Madison Counties, as well as the Town of Beaufort have all issued similar shelter in place orders.

“This is a big deal.  It is not taken lightly.  It shows the seriousness of the situation, and we’re taking steps to protect Beaufort and those in the surrounding areas,” said Beaufort Mayor Everette Newton in a Facebook video.

In Beaufort, beginning March 25 through April 22 residents are ordered to stay at home unless they are completing activities essential to their health and safety, need necessary supplies such as groceries, are taking care of someone, or work at businesses deemed essential.

People are allowed to go outdoors for exercise, as long as they maintain social distancing.

Food take-out, delivery or drive-thru are available during the shelter in place.  Gas stations and auto shops also will remain open.

The North Carolina Health Care association sent a letter to Governor Cooper encouraging him to issue a shelter in place order.

The letter says cases of COVID-19 are increasing at a rapid rate, and they expect to see a continued multiplying effect.

“Hospitals and physicians through the state believe this is the only resort left to immediately impact the growth and spread of the virus,” said President and CEO of the North Carolina Healthcare Association Steve Lawler.

Lawler says it will take at least two weeks after a shelter in place order to see a change in the trajectory of the cases.

However, Gary J. Salamido, the President and CEO of NC Chamber, says a statewide shelter in place order should be a “last-ditch resort.”

In a statement, Salamido said a shelter in place order would generate a massive disruption for the private sector. 

“It would fashion a massive disturbance that could create the opposite of its intended effect by interfering with the very economic activity that is protecting our state and its citizenry from disaster,” Salamido said in a statement.

Several states have issued shelter in place orders, including New York.

PhD student Alex Borsa lives in Midtown Manhattan.

“I walked through Times Square the other day while trying to get some fresh air and there was not a soul there,” he said.

Under shelter in place orders, New Yorkers can only leave their homes for exercise or essential tasks, like trips to the grocery or pharmacy.  Mass transit, food takeout, and gas stations all remain open.

Borsa said when he heard about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, he decided to drive to Maryland to stay with family.

“Grocery stores are still open. It’s actually surprising some of the things that are still considered essential. Certain things for transportation, like auto repairs are open, which feels counter intuitive,” he said.

Shelter in place orders differ from lock down orders, like the one in place in Italy. Lock down orders include a curfew, travel restrictions, and police checkpoints on highways and train stations.

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