The 26-bed Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head is a joint venture between Vidant Health and Chesapeake Healthcare.

Reprinted by permission from the Coastal Review Online

03/27/2020 By Catherine Kozak

On the Outer Banks, daily life feels almost like the familiar suspension of normality in preparing for a storm: Everyone and everything is hyper-focused on stocking supplies and staying safe.

But unlike the adrenaline-fueled anxiety of hurricane readiness, anticipating the impact of looming disease is just endless churning of anxiety. No one knows what to expect or when it will end.

With the first death in North Carolina from COVID-19 reported Tuesday in Cabarrus County, and Dare County’s first positive case reported Wednesday, the state is bracing for the continued spread of cases from the coronavirus pandemic. So far, few have been found in northeastern North Carolina coastal counties, but public health professionals have been gathering resources for weeks to be as ready as possible. People in these rural counties are generally poorer, older and less healthy than most North Carolinians.

“This is such a fluid situation, and there are so many unknowns,” Hyde County Health Department Director Luana Gibbs said in an interview last week. “I think we’re pulling together as a community … We’re being very proactive.”

Gibbs said that in limiting their public contacts, healthy people are protecting not only themselves, but also the frail or vulnerable folks where they live and work.

“We do have a growing population of elderly and we do have a population with chronic health conditions,” she said. “Yes, that is a concern and I do worry about that.”

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