The Ocracoke Observer is news service that focuses on news and topics of interest to the Ocracoke Island community, Hyde County, our eastern region and the many visitors who love this place.

And while we are an island on the edge of the eastern United States, decisions by state and federal agencies affect us, too; residents need to know about ferry and transportation issues, legislative activities in the N.C. General Assembly and  Washington, D.C., and more.

Now with the COVID-19 crisis well underway, what our state and federal governments do in response affects all of us as the virus spreads through the state and very possibly heads our way.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that there are 137 known cases of COVID-19 across 27 of the state’s 100 counties as of this afternoon with the closest case in Craven County. A week or so ago, only 12 counties had confirmed the virus.

Footprints in the sand on Ocracoke. Photo: C. Leinbach

The state decisions ordering restaurants to offer take-out service only, prohibitions of events of more than 50 persons and decimating information about the multitude of ways to limit the exposure (especially hand washing) due to this sneaky disease is of vital importance to all of us.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a once-in-a-century event that carries major health and economic ramifications affecting the state, country, the entire world as well as our little island of Ocracoke.

Subject matter experts in medicine, science, finance, education and public policy are working feverishly (yes, pun intended) to figure out how to minimize this viral disaster, but almost all admit there are no clear paths to take.

This week, Dare County, followed the next day by Hyde, took the drastic step of closing the Outer Banks to new visitors to try and mitigate the virus’s effects. Hyde’s closure declaration applies only to Ocracoke, not the mainland.

COVID-19 will have a disastrous impact on our already damaged tourist economy and a village still rebuilding from Hurricane Dorian’s wrath only six and a half months ago, which closed the island for three months.

The island was slowly getting back on its feet and eagerly awaiting the spring visitor influx for a crucial economic boost. Now we have this second blow.

Unlike Dorian, which impacted Ocracoke the hardest of any community in the states, the whole world is stressed by COVID-19–especially by the great uncertainty as to what will transpire in the coming months.

The Ocracoke Observer will continue to report on the state-wide issues relating to this pandemic. How the state handles the medical crisis impacts all of us.  

News on COVID-19 changes by the hour and most of it at this stage is not good news.

We will be realistic, not alarmist.

Several of our recent reports on COVID-19 have noted that there have been no known cases in Hyde or Dare County. We did this to provide a perspective. Hyde County Health Director Luanna Gibbs confirmed in an interview today on Ocracoke’s community radio station, WOVV 90.1 FM, that some patients have been tested on Ocracoke and the mainland but none have been positive for COVID-19.

How Ocracoke copes proactively is newsworthy. For example, anticipating the state decree of closing all schools, our school officials were already hard at work implementing a virtual learning program where students can continue their studies from home.

Are we nervous about the near future? Yes, but we all need to work together and not overreact.

We will continue to report on island activities, its people and its wonderful nature and history. When things get better, we will write about the resumed music scene, the plays and other cultural happenings.

This is serious stuff. Every community is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The better informed we are the better it will help us get us through these uncertain times.

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  1. You’re kidding. Enough folks bitching about virus coverage to warrant justification to write about it? Ocracoke’s a faraway place, but it ain’t all that far away. Thanks

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