PENDER COUNTY — Pender County Chairman George Brown has sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper requesting more local control in reopening the county’s businesses in response to the negative effect statewide Covid-19 restrictions are having on the county’s economy and its sales tax revenues.
He argued his case based on pleas from local business leaders and because the county has had “little to no positive COVID-19 cases.”
The letter was dated Wednesday, May 6, a day after the governor announced a ‘Phase 1’ reopening of the state economy, which will allow retail businesses that can implement social distancing and frequent disinfecting procedures to open, but only at 50% of their usual capacity.
Brown said that like past hurricanes, the Covid-19 pandemic “is having a great impact on us and especially our economy as we recover from the devastation left by the recent storms.”
“Being a county of only about 60,000 residents, our businesses and sales tax greatly impact our county,” Brown wrote. “We are hearing pleas from our business community to quicken the relief regarding some of the restrictions placed on us through the executive order. Allowing flexibility for counties with lower populations and little to no positive COVID-19 cases AND/OR more flexibility with progressing through the phases seems appropriate.”
He requested allowances for the county to “work with the state in securing more local control through the remainder of the [reopening] process.”
“It is important and with expectations greatly expressed from citizens to open businesses, industries and churches for the survival and recovery of our communities,” he wrote.
He also acknowledged the logic and importance of a planned and comprehensive approach to the statewide lifting of restrictions, and understood that “premature decisions can have a significant effect on recovery.”
“With that being said, I also believe one size does not always fit all,” Brown argued to the governor. “Our counties are different in size, population, economies, and number of positive COVID-19 cases reported. Hospitals and healthcare access can also be a factor. Currently, we have less than 20 positive cases in Pender County. Of those cases, six are associated with the State Correctional Facility/Prison in Burgaw.”
He said the state’s restrictions “seemed appropriate the first few weeks as we learned about the virus.”
In taking more control, Brown said that the county could continue current sanitization efforts , social distancing restrictions, and other practical measures to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease known as Covid-19. With the help of Health Director Carolyn Moser, he said commissioners can “monitor and adjust accordingly on a county level.”
Read Chairman Brown’s full letter to Governor Cooper below: