To: Carteret County Board of Commissioners
From: The Physicians and other health care providers of Crystal Coast Family Practice
On behalf of my colleagues at Crystal Coast Family Practice as well as all of the citizens of Carteret County we request that you follow the example set by the town of Beaufort and issue a legally enforceable “stay at home” proclamation in order to stop the public’s in-person access to non-essential businesses and effect more consistent adherence to proper and effective social distancing policies.
This should be issued for at least two weeks in order to limit community spread of the COVID-19 virus. There should be an ongoing opportunity to evaluate and review the status of COVID-19 within Carteret County and its neighboring counties in order to make decisions which are in the best interest of our citizens which may include extending the time period that such restrictions may remain in place.
COVID-19 represents an unprecedented public health risk which cannot be overstated. The opportunity for aggressive action to make a difference is closing quickly. Although flattening of our nation’s epidemic curve has not yet been demonstrated, Carteret County still has a better opportunity to make that happen. But this will take a bold, courageous action on the part of you, our Commissioners.
Although health care workers are working diligently throughout the state to defend against this crisis, they do so with limited access to testing supplies, PPE (personal protective equipment) and ventilators. The shortages are frighteningly real, and, despite such shortages being front page news for the last month, they remain without any evidence for a resolution.
Furthermore, North Carolina’s Department of Health issued new COVID-19 testing guidelines on March 23, 2020 which instructed front line health care providers such as us to no longer test patients suspected to have the COVID-19 infection who are exhibiting only mild symptoms. Only patients who have severe symptoms and possibly require hospitalization are to be tested.
Their rationale was to make sure there will be enough tests and PPE to have available for seriously ill patients. In other words, the NC Dept of Health does not anticipate that the shortage of tests and PPE will be addressed in time to face the anticipated surge of very sick people.
Additionally, without earlier testing there will be very inaccurate (under) reporting of COVID-19 cases in NC which may lead to a false sense of reassurance by North Carolinians across the state including those in Carteret County. By the time our numbers appear to be rising in a significant way, it will be due to the emergence of a very sick group of people. Certainly, we don’t want to see that.
At Crystal Coast Family Practice, we appreciate the leadership of our Commissions’ Board members. We understand the weight of the decision which you must make. There will be significant ramifications for any action or inaction that you take. Nonetheless, this crisis needs your immediate consideration. We encourage decisive immediate action to protect the lives and health of our citizens.
We will remain available to the Board for any assistance that you feel is helpful. Thank you.
Cas M. Cader, MD
Joseph G. McCabe, DO
Gregory Reichert, DO
Kathleen Boykin, FNP-BC
Shelly Odom, MD
Crystal Coast Family Practice