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Health and Economic Outlook of New Bern and Surrounding Areas

Craven County COVID-19 Cases - Nov 16

COVID-19 continues to spread…no downward curve in sight

I’ve received countless requests to write about or promote local businesses and nonprofits. That’s why I created New Bern Now in 2009. Merchants and nonprofits were struggling from the Recession, and I wanted to make a difference by promoting them…for free!

Then COVID-19 came to town in March 2020. I continue to receive requests to “cover” an event or write about a business/nonprofit. A lot of those businesses are the same ones that are trying to survive now. I want to help them. I block off my schedule and when I get there, I’m distressed to see so many people ignoring public health measures. No face coverings or they’re hanging around people’s necks. No social distancing…people are hugging. Don’t get me wrong, I would love a hug, but we’re living through a worldwide pandemic. I can’t in good conscience promote something that I believe is possibly contributing to the virus spreading in our community. If you are not taking precautionary measures to protect your customers or clients, we won’t be promoting your efforts.

It’s not that I’m living in fear of getting the virus. I don’t want it, but my main concern is that if I do get it and I’m asymptomatic, I could spread it to someone who’s vulnerable and they would get sick or possibly die because of my failure to follow simple safety precautions.

Our lives have been turned upside down in one way or another. Some people don’t know when they will get their next meal, others don’t know how they will pay for rent/mortgage, some have suffered from the virus and/or lost a loved one from it, and the list goes on. Healthcare workers, first responders, and law enforcement are putting their lives at risk every day…for us!

Recently, I asked Jim Davis, the Vice President of Nursing Services at CarolinaEast Medical Center, if there was anything our community could do to help decrease the hospitalizations. He said, “The best thing that anyone can do is make sure they are maintaining their distance from other people when they’re out in public and wearing a mask…”.

Elected officials are sending mixed messages…some are working hard to distribute masks and personal hygiene products while others are denying that COVID-19 exists.

What’s happening to our community? We are better than this!

On March 25, the President approved a Major Disaster Declaration for NC. If it was a Hurricane, elected officials would be leading the effort to get us through it and most of us would be asking how we can help others.

Half of us are failing to understand that the virus is real. It’s spreading in our community and it’s the cause of the economic hardships.

Facts provided by the Craven County Health Department and the NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard: The first case of COVID-19 was reported on March 14 in Craven County. The first death was reported on April 9. The tenth death was reported almost 4 months later on July 30. Three and a half months later, 67 people have died. Of the 2,649 cases reported (on November 16), 1,760 cases have been reported in New Bern and 56 out of the 67 deaths have been in New Bern.

Note: The data does not include people who had minimal or no symptoms and were not tested, people who had symptoms but did not seek medical care, people who sought medical care but were not tested, and people with COVID-19 in whom the virus was not detected by testing.

If the majority of us wore a mask, people would feel more confident that the risk of infection is low, and they would be more inclined to support local businesses and attend nonprofit events. This would increase revenue!

Masks aren’t 100%, but if we also watch our distance, it’s all we have until a vaccine is available, hopefully next year.

Please understand that there is a small percentage of people who are medically exempt from wearing a mask. They already feel alienated and I ask you not to shame others for not wearing a mask. For those who do have a medical exemption (i.e. PTSD, sensory issues, breathing disorder), please practice social distancing.

I ask you to do the right thing by wearing a mask, socially distancing, and practicing hand hygiene. Our actions will be responsible for the health and economic outlook of our community. We can do this if we come together!

Wendy Card