A North Carolina county is taking extreme measures to prevent coronavirus from spreading in its community.
Dare County, a popular summer vacation area in the state’s Outer Banks, has established checkpoints around the county to stop visitors and non-resident property owners from entering.
“These restrictions may be inconvenient, disappointing and have financial impacts, however, they were made in the interest of public safety to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dare County said in a statement.
Since March 17, only permanent residents with proper identification — including a permanent resident entry permit — have been allowed to enter Dare County. Businesses must apply for entry permits for their out-of-town employees.
The county implemented the measure after determining that “restrictions and prohibitions are necessary to protect public health and safety,” the county said on its website.
Dare County includes the middle portion of the Outer Banks, a string of barrier islands along the North Carolina coast. A popular tourist destination, the county estimates its normal daily population of 35,000 people swells to between 225,000 and 300,000 during the summer months.
With its small population and a single hospital, Dare County believes that taking strict precautions is necessary. Outer Banks Hospital, the primary medical facility there, only has about 20 beds.
“It is imperative to take measures to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 and not overwhelm our healthcare system so it can care for those who are at most risk and continue to provide routine medical and emergency services,” the county said in an earlier news release.
“The intent of this declaration is to decrease the risk of exposure and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Dare County by eliminating non-essential travel, thereby reducing the number of individuals in the county and ultimately reducing potential virus spread and the burden on our healthcare system,” it added.
Dare County announced its first confirmed coronavirus case on Wednesday and public health staff have notified people who have come in close contact with the patient.
More than 900 cases of coronavirus and at least four deaths have been reported in North Carolina.