Gaston Co. percent-positive rate highest since July, N.C. leaders encourage tighter COVID-19 restrictions

Gaston County percent positive rate highest since July, state leadership recommends tighter COVID-19 restrictions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Gaston County Health Department says it has seen some of the highest numbers of daily case counts and hospitalizations since the COVID pandemic began.

As of last Thursday, Gaston County saw an additional 10 deaths due to COVID-19. The percent-positive rate is 11.95 percent, which is the highest it’s been since July.

This is one of the reasons why Governor Cooper’s administration is encouraging Gaston County to put in tighter COVID-19 restrictions for businesses and residents.

They sent a letter to 36 counties in total recommending more intense safety measures, including limiting the mass gathering limit, closing bars, limiting alcohol sales hours, limiting restaurant operating hours and even recommending a fine for people and businesses that don’t enforce the mask requirement.

But some commissioners and business owners are weary of these restrictions.

“It’s been sad to see the list of closure that are just never gonna open back up. If we go to tighter restrictions, that list is definitely going to grow," said John Bailey, who owns Sammy’s Neighborhood Pub in Belmont.

Bailey saids Sammy’s is doing OK because of loyal customers.

However, he said it would definitely be another challenge if the county or the state implemented some of the tighter restrictions listed.

“We employ more than 30 people here and we want to keep them employed. Not only for them but for us. It’s how we make our business," Bailey said. "For it to be changing again and possibly be going to tighter restrictions. its very frustrating and I don’t want to do it.”

The decision for tighter restrictions would be up to each county government.

The Gaston County Commissioner’s are meeting on Tuesday for their voting meeting although this topic of conversation is not listed on the posted agenda. Commissioner Tracy Philbeck said he won’t support anything that would shut businesses back down.

“If we give our citizens the right information, they are in a better position to take care of themselves and their family than big government," Philbeck said.

Another part of the suggestion from the state is for county governments to create a fine for anybody not following the mask requirements.

“I think every citizen regardless of politics or how you feel about COVID should wake up and realize your governor is asking counties to create laws to possibly fine you and put you in jail," Philbeck said. "That is crazy.”

However, other residents are open to the idea, especially as the Gaston County Health Department says it’s percent positive rate is the highest they’ve seen since July.

“I could see having temporary ordinance to wear a mask in public,” said Jeff Trepel, who lives in Gaston County. “Counties need to be aware of the statistics and the data and be prepared if necessary to take some of the actions in the recommendations.”

As of now, there’s no scheduled discussion for the board of commissioners to implement any of these new recommendations. The next county commissioner meeting is Tuesday.

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