Shelter-in-place is a sensible next step for North Carolina
BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD CHARLOTTE OBSERVER MARCH 23, 2020 10:09 AM
NC Governor on the coronavirus: ‘We know this will get worse before it gets better’
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tells reporters that the coronavirus situation in the state will get worse before it gets better and cooperation and social distancing will help slow the spread of illness. Cooper spoke Thursday, March 19, 2020.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has been both thoughtful and aggressive in taking steps to slow the COVID-19 virus. He’s closed schools, bars and restaurant dining rooms, and he might be ready soon to take the next and most significant step: a shelter-in-place order that would require North Carolinians to stay at home except for essential tasks. It would be a reasonable and sensible move for the health and safety of our state.
Cooper is scheduled to hold a call Tuesday with county commissioners from across the state, the Editorial Board has learned. An email announcing the call, which is scheduled at 1:45 p.m., says the governor will “update County Officials on state response efforts” and doesn’t indicate if a shelter-in-place order is imminent. Cooper might simply be seeking input on the possibility. But if the governor is prepared to issue that declaration, North Carolinians should be ready to do their part.
“Shelter in place” orders in several cities, counties and states have required people to stay home unless they are performing essential tasks like grocery shopping. In some locations, restaurants can still provide delivery and curbside service. People can still jog, walk or hike outdoors as long as they maintain safe distances from one another.
The public health calculation behind such orders is simple: COVID-19 spreads through people coughing and exhaling viral particles, or touching contaminated surfaces, and that spread can be slowed if people practice social distancing and avoid crowds. A shelter-in-place order could be critical to avoiding a catastrophic overload of hospitals and health-care facilities that has led to thousands of deaths in Italy and elsewhere.