Gaston County community responds to being in red category for critical spread of COVID-19

Gaston County community responds to being in red category for critical spread of COVID-19

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is putting counties with critical levels of community spread of COVID-19 on alert.

Tuesday, he announced a new system that assigns a color to each county based on key COVID-19 metrics.

Yellow means significant, orange means substantial and red means critical community spread.

His announcement does not change restrictions in North Carolina but leaves it up to counties to add precautions if they are in those orange or red zones.

Sanitation is a top priority at restaurant Friendly’s of Stanley.

As long as Gaston County sits in the red tier of COVID-19 cases, restaurant owner Kelly York is worried.

“Very nervous,” York said. “Very worried that we’re gonna be shut down again. I don’t know how we would sustain that.”

A combination of three metrics is used to assign a color to a county: case rate, percent of tests that are positive and hospital impact.

Gaston County is listed as high impact with 55 people in the hospital and five on ventilators as of Wednesday.

“I don’t want to use the word laughable because that’s a sore subject for a lot of people but this is what we’ve been focused on from the very start,” Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown told WBTV.

He says Governor Cooper’s announcement does not change anything.

With the holidays approaching, he believes it continues to come down to personal responsibility.

“If you have a vulnerable grandparent or something just be vigilant of what they’re doing inside your home and continue to wash your hands and do the 3 W’s,” Brown said.

But York says they are considering cracking down, so they won’t have to close down.

“Maybe pull out another table or two to give some more space,” she said. “We do ask that everyone wear a mask. All of our employees wear a mask.”

York says it’s a delicate balance.

“I certainly want everybody to be safe, but I’ve got employees that they have to support their families,” she said. “And I have to support my family.”

Some people were wearing masks as they walked into the restaurant Wednesday, but not all.

York says at this point they are not telling people they have to leave if they refuse to wear one, but that could change.

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