Covid Article 5.0
The title should be read as “The COVID Article Five Point O.” That is because this story has been written, torn up, re-written, torn up, re-written, torn up, re-written, torn up, and re-written again. Publishing deadlines will ensure that this is the final version of the article. Why so many re-writes? Sometimes, that is the danger of publishing a periodical that contains a story on something as fluid as this current pandemic.
Originally the story was about how life has become different from what it had been “pre-Covid.” Time had been spent talking to various Outer Banks business owners, vacationers, family, and friends. A lot of what was written about based on those conversations is now moot. But, yes, some of it is still appropriate. Generic things, like what Mike Wypasek, a lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio, had to say, “I’m pretty much a total introvert. I haven’t sat down at a restaurant in 18 months, not inside at a bar, no movie theaters, no fencing, no grocery, or any shopping at any times except off times, and I keep distance from people. I wash my hands more often, I carry hand sanitizer in the car, and I haven’t had a cold in 2 years.”
Wypasek isn’t alone in his carefulness. John T. Harper Jr is a wedding DJ on the Outer Banks. Before accepting a new gig, John will “ask about the venue, especially if it’s indoors. Is there social distancing from where I set up? I will also “double-mask” at the gig.”
Others, like John Harper, have already received their COVID booster vaccinations. Others are planning on getting theirs in the near future.
Speaking of boosters, according to Dare County: “It is anticipated that by the third week of September, anyone who was fully vaccinated with an mRNA COVID vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) at least 8 months ago will be eligible for a booster vaccine. We are in the process now of organizing multiple vaccine clinics to be hosted in late September, October, and November to provide booster doses to individuals once they reach the 8 month post-second dose time frame.”
Many of us are washing our hands more frequently, ensuring a certain amount of social distancing, and the trend is going back to mask-wearing. Going back to mask-wearing wasn’t necessarily happening in COVID Article 1.0, 2.0, or even 3.0, but then something called the Delta Variant reared its ugly head. At the time of this writing, the Dare County COVID 19 Dashboard indicates 4,678 total positive COVID cases. Of which, 3,118 are county residents. The current number of active county resident cases is 167, ten of those required hospitalization. The other 157 recent cases required home isolation.
Dare County is in the red category on the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map. Red indicates a high level of community transmission of the virus.
Dare County Board of Education, as of their September 1st meeting has now required mandatory masking indoors at all school facilities for both students and staff.
Ferry Service between Hatteras and Ocracoke has also been affected. Five employees had tested positive for COVID in early September and service was reduced due to “temporary staffing shortages.” Ferry runs were reduced from 60 round trips down to 44.
Because of this, the Currituck-Knotts Island was temporarily suspended due to their staff being used to help support the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry.
Dare County is further recommending “All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, ages five and over should wear a mask when indoors in public settings. All individuals should consider wearing a mask when outside if gathering in large crowds. Individuals ages 12 and over should get vaccinated for COVID-19 to help prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and death.”
As far as public events are concerned, the town of Duck announced that their “Duck Jazz Festival presented by PNC announces the postponement of the event until October 8 & 9, 2022. In consultation with health officials and our presenting sponsor, in addition to new guidance by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) on events and festivals, organizers reviewed the health, safety, and logistical concerns related to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Under the new guidance, the setup, flow, and reduced schedule able to be safely offered by the Duck Jazz Festival would not allow for the same interaction with community members and artists that are a hallmark of this event. Organizers have opted to postpone the festival in order to offer the best and safest event possible.”
However, the Duck Jazz Festival isn’t the only fall music festival. The Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival is scheduled for October 21-23 at Roanoke Island’s festival park. According to the Bluegrass festival owner and organizer, Cory Hemilright, “We are planning on making the festival as safe as possible this year. We’ll be conducting temperature checks before entering the park.
There will be marks on the ground to keep people socially distanced while waiting in line at the various vendors, and hand sanitizer will be everywhere.” Hemilright also says, “We will certainly be following any guidelines put out by the state. We want people to have fun and to be able to enjoy a weekend of great music, but we also want everyone to be safe while doing it.”
As a side note, Hemilright had also indicated that the festival is selling out at a much quicker pace than in previous years.
“People are chomping at the bit to get back out and live again. To have fun and to attend events again, but we, as the organizers of the event, need to be mindful that it will have to be done safely.”
Julie Walter also agrees with Hemilright. She tells us “The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is on and we’re selling tons of tickets.”
The Outer Banks Seafood Festival is scheduled for October 16th.
Greg Smrdel is the editor for Outer Banks Coastal Life.
Greg Smrdel, while his physical body lives in Ohio (for now), his soul will always remain on the Outer Banks.