Local health officials issue recommendations Thanksgiving

As coronavirus continues to spread at an alarming rate across North Carolina, local health officials urge residents to heed the warning and take action with holidays approaching. That was the message from Moore County Health Director Robert Wittmann in his regular update to the Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

According to data reported by the state, North Carolina has seen a 25% increase in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past 14 days and an 18% increase in hospitalizations over the same period. While hospitalizations in Moore County remain low, more people are now hospitalized across the state for COVID-19 than at any point since the pandemic began.

Wittmann urged residents to celebrate Thanksgiving safely by limiting their travel, avoid large indoor gatherings and arrange holiday table seating 6-feet or more apart. He also suggested that Black Friday shoppers consider visiting local merchants online.

“We all look forward to the day we can return to normal, and our business can do better,” Wittmann said.

Commissioners also listened to information about the state’s new color-coded alert system from Moore County Health Department Public Information Officer Matt Garner. The new alert system was announced by Gov. Cooper earlier in the day.

“The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will begin using the COVID-19 County Alert System. It is a color-coded map that denotes the COVID-19 status for all 100 counties,” said Garner.

On the map, yellow means significant community spread; orange means substantial community spread; and red means critical community spread.  Moore County is shown on the alert system map as orange.

Highway Corridor Overlay District Standards

Commissioners voted to continue a public hearing for proposed changes to the highway corridor overlay district until their February 2021 meeting. If approved, the changes would add restrictions for development, setback requirements, allowed uses and signage along U.S. 15/501, N.C. 24/27, N.C. 211 and N.C. 690.

The Highway Corridor Overlay District is intended to protect the rural character and natural environment of the area and to provide attractive highway corridors and gateways. However, three people representing business along the affected routes spoke in opposition saying it would be too restrictive and limit development.

Annual Financial Report

Moore County continues to maintain a healthy fund balance, according to the annual audit conducted by Elliot Davis, an accounting firm hired by the county who are based in Raleigh. The available fund balance for the fiscal year ending in June 2020 was $26.8 million or 30% of operating costs. The state recommends that counties maintain a minimum of 15% fund balance.

“We did not identify any deficiencies in internal control that we consider to be significant deficiencies or material weakness,” according to LeAnn Bagasala, CPA who presented the audit results.

However, significant deficiencies were identified in Medicaid and the Low Income Home and Energy Assistance Program. Bagasala did not explain the deficiencies. The commissioners did not ask for any details.

File photo: Matt Garner, Public Information Officer for the Moore County Health Department ~Sandhills Sentinel/John Patota.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.

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