With news of two more cases bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in Craven County to six, the growth rate here is starting to resemble the same trajectory that is characteristic of novel coronavirus outbreaks around the world.
The first four cases in Craven County could be explained as being contracted from outside the community. However, the latest two cases seem to have been contracted from within Craven County. That means the virus is out in the community and could be wide-spread.
It takes several days for symptoms to emerge after contracting COVID-19, during which time the individual is contagious. Symptoms vary widely, from hardly any to life-threatening and deadly.
The purpose of Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order, which took effect at 5 p.m. Monday, is to reduce the chances of people contracting the virus.
However, the order includes a large number of exceptions, ranging from grocery stores and pharmacies, to ABC stores.
On Tuesday morning in New Bern, downtown looked like a ghost town. But along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, traffic was moderate and parking lots, particularly at Walmart, were nearly full.
That indicates a large number of people are potentially exposed to the virus.
Unless the growth trajectory is flattened — using methods like the stay-at-home order — local medical capacity will be quickly overwhelmed.
Federal authorities estimate that COVID-19 will claim at least 100,000 lives across the nation. Stay-at-home loses its effectiveness as more people ignore the order.
Governor Cooper indicated that his executive order applies throughout the state. No county or community can allow relaxed versions of the order. However, counties and communities can issue orders with stricter provisions. That would be up to local leadership.
The situation changes by the hour, and Governor Cooper may decide to strengthen his stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, local leaders are free to issue their own orders strengthening efforts to reduce or prevent the spread of COVID-19.