Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Serving a vulnerable population, northern Brunswick County leaders reflect on the coronavirus [Free read]

Brunswick County Chairman Frank Williams and Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman lead communities that have a higher-than-average population of senior residents who are more at risk of experiencing severe illness from the coronavirus. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy of Williams, Bozeman)
Brunswick County Chairman Frank Williams and Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman lead communities that have a higher-than-average population of senior residents who are more at risk of experiencing severe illness from the coronavirus. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy of Williams, Bozeman)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Northern Brunswick County leaders, including District Five Chairman Frank Williams and Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman have shared their reflections on the virus that has taken over the daily lives of the nation.

With nearly a third of its population falling within the coronavirus’s high-risk category, Brunswick County is particularly vulnerable to the global and deadly pandemic.

Related: PPE roundup: Who’s asking for masks, gloves, and other protective gear? [Free read]

About 32% of Brunswick County’s residents are 65 and older. That’s twice the state and national average, according to the latest U.S. Census data, and could be even higher after this year’s count.

As of Saturday, 34 people have tested positive for the virus in the county, with 19 recoveries. Two are currently hospitalized and one person has died.

Chairman Frank Williams

To start, how are you doing? How have you been coping with stay-at-home orders?

My daily routine has been overtaken by videoconferences. In addition to my County responsibilities and communication, I’ve also been busy communicating with my clients to help them through this situation.

What are you hearing from constituents?

I’ve received comments running the full gambit of sentiments. Some people feel the restrictions aren’t strong enough, while others think they’ve gone too far. In general, people are concerned about what the future holds, and I attempt to reassure them that we are Brunswick County strong and will come through this together.

Do you agree with the statewide stay-at-home order? Should it be more restrictive? Less restrictive?

I understand that the Governor had a very difficult decision to make in issuing the order. While I have major heartburn over government having the power to tell citizens they have to stay in their own homes, I also believe that the Governor was following the advice of the very capable health professionals on his team.

Should the county implement its own restrictions to take the statewide stay-at-home order one step further?

While there are always exceptions, I believe our county is full of good people who are going the extra mile to do the right thing and keep themselves and other ones safe. At this time I do not see a need to implement county-wide restrictions beyond those issued by the Governor. Every right is accompanied by a responsibility, and my challenge to our citizens is to exercise common sense and personal responsibility and show the world that we don’t need a government edict to do the right thing.

Should statewide restrictions have gone into effect earlier or do you think they were on time?

Hindsight is 20/20, and we do not yet have enough hindsight to answer that question.

Recognizing it may still be too soon to tell, are there any county services, departments, or projects that you are particularly concerned about should revenues be negatively impacted?

Our budget process is currently underway, and I believe our board will vigilant in sustaining our key priorities while protecting the fiscal strength of our County across the board.

Can you share any other thoughts, reflections, or advice you may have for concerned residents during this difficult time?

This is an unprecedented situation, and life on the other side of it will be different. Brunswick County has a dedicated team of capable health, human services, emergency management and public safety professionals working non-stop to bring our county through this. Now is a time to exercise common sense and take appropriate precautions, but not to panic. If you need information, please visit our County website or contact our staff. Finally, now is a time to reconnect with your family and friends, particularly those who may live alone. Please take time to call or video-chat with those you love. This is a challenging time, but we will come through it together.

Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman

To start, how are you doing? How have you been coping with stay-at-home orders? 

Social distancing is difficult for someone as social as I am! But I have taken the stay at home order seriously and remained at home, other than a couple of trips to buy necessities. I think it is so important right now for city and town officials everywhere to set an example for others by following all guidelines and restrictions being set.

What are you hearing from constituents?

Most people I have talked to just can’t wait for this to be over. But I think most everybody is taking this seriously and staying away from others. I think the emotions people are feeling vary — some feel frustrated, some have focused on and are appreciative of the extra quality time they’re getting right now with their families. But, in general, I think people are scared and business owners are worried and they all just want to know when this is going to be over. And I wish I had an answer to give them.

Do you agree with the statewide stay-at-home order? Should it be more restrictive? Less restrictive? 

(Note: This response addresses this question and the two following it) The Governor is relying on health officials during this situation to advise him on the best next steps. That is what the County is doing, as well. So, in turn, that’s what we are doing here in Leland. Just as the Governor and Brunswick County officials trust the advice of their health experts, we trust and are following the rules laid out at the state and county levels on the guidance of health officials. I think it’s important to note, too, that this is a constantly evolving situation and decisions have to often be made quickly and without the benefit of experience or lessons learned; this is something that we’ve never dealt with before. So, as long as people stay informed of any new changes or restrictions and continue to follow those guidelines and restrictions already in place, they should be effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Should the county or town implement its own restrictions to take the statewide stay-at-home order one step further? See above.

Recognizing it may still be too soon to tell, are there any town services, departments, or projects that you are particularly concerned about should revenues be negatively impacted? 

I think it’s too soon to tell but in terms of departments and services currently, I think we have a good set-up at the Town. We’re still issuing building permits, for example. We’re still providing the same services; we’ve just had to handle things in a different way during this pandemic.

Can you share any other thoughts, reflections, or advice you may have for concerned residents during this difficult time? 

I would just remind people that it is crucial to follow precautions. Be cautious on how close you come into contact with others. Stay home unless you need to go out. And it’s ok to feel overwhelmed or scared or frustrated. We’re all feeling those same things at times. But your overall well-being matters, too. Try to stay positive and find activities that bring you some laughter and joy. I know we will get through this, and I truly believe we will come out of this stronger than we were before. 


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee Still at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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