By Carol Pritchett
Mayor, Town of Lake Lure
As I have been looking out over Lake Lure, the sun has been sparkling on the water, the trees have been green or bright red and I have been startled by the beauty. It is as though Mother Nature did the holiday decorating for us. We have been so incredibly fortunate this past season to have the lake at full pond through the holidays for our pleasure. As a reminder, we will be lowering the lake on January 4, 2021 for multiple projects. We expect to have the lake back at full pond by January 31, 2021.
It began with no warning of things to come. An unknown virus in China that seemed at first so remote managed to insinuate itself into the daily fabric of our lives and change everything. We hastened to put protocols in place to protect our communities and struggled as we were forced to adapt to an ever-changing scenario. Lake Lure fared better than many in North Carolina but there were many sacrifices. Short term vacation rentals were suspended, businesses were interrupted, people stayed at home, and families and friends were not able to gather. But we donned masks, practiced social distancing, and socialized responsibly. We made it through the first onslaught and the summer offered a respite. But we all knew that Covid-19 would reemerge in the colder months even more ferocious as we spent more time indoors. And it has.
Covid-19 positive cases in North Carolina continue to climb at a very concerning rate. The State has established a County Alert System to give individuals, businesses, and public officials a tool to assess their county’s exposure and make decisions to combat the spread of the virus. Counties are categorized into three tiers:
1. Yellow: Significant Community Spread
2. Orange: Substantial Community Spread
3. Red: Critical Community Spread
At the time I am writing this article, Rutherford County is categorized as a Red Tier based on current metrics. There are critical steps we can and must take to prevent further Community Spread and prevent increased hospitalizations and deaths.
On November 23, 2020 Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No 180: Increasing Face Covering Requirements to Prevent the Rapid Spread of Covid-19. This order amended and strengthened some provisions of Executive Order No. 169, addressing Face Covering Requirements both for individuals and businesses, and Enforcement of Face Covering Requirements.
Under Executive Order No. 180 Law enforcement officers may cite people who fail to wear Face Coverings and businesses or organizations who fail to enforce the Face Covering Requirement. Businesses occupying more than 15,000 square feet must have a worker at each public entrance who is responsible for adherence to these requirements.
On December 11, 2020, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen launched a Modified Stay at Home Order after the rapid increase in North Carolina’s key COVID-19 trends. The Order requires people to stay at home between 10 pm and 5 am. The Order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and more to close at 10 pm. Travel to and from work; to obtain food, medical care, fuel or social services; or to take care of a family member is exempted. The order will be in effect until at least January 8, 2021.
These Executive Orders are available on the State of North Carolina website and I encourage each of you the read them carefully. Following these orders personally is crucial and we must respectfully request that all citizens and visitors honor these mandates to wear facial coverings and to maintain social distances to stop the spread of the virus.
We are so incredibly blessed to have a dedicated Lake Lure Police Department under the stellar leadership of Chief Sean Humphries. We are a small population but are spread over many square miles. In addition, the Police Officers faithfully maintain the safety of our lake and rise to the occasion each year when our population swells due to thousands of tourists coming to visit Lake Lure. This last week the Police Officers delivered Christmas presents which they collected to the Lake Lure Classical Academy. That is above and beyond their job description and they did it with charity and humility. Our safety and protection is, and will always be their mission and duty, but they cannot be everywhere at one time. Though charged with the enforcement of these Covid-19 requirements, it is unimaginable to expect that they could singlehandedly address each infraction of this order. As a community, we must step up to the plate and support our police and these requirements; educating the public to the seriousness of this disease and kindly reminding offenders of their social responsibility to help the spread of this terribly infectious virus. We cannot afford to see our numbers, both positive cases and deaths, continue to increase.
This past year, as so many of us were not be able to travel or even congregate with family and friends for the holidays, perhaps the best gift we can give in 2021 is to join together to defeat Covid-19 in our community. There is hope now, vaccines are being reviewed by the FDA for emergency approval and expected to be available in the coming months. But we cannot become complacent, the fight is not over.
I wish all of you joy, love and hope for health and well-being this New Year.