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'We've got to stop horrible emergency,' Hawkins says

County commissioners and staffers kept six feet apart during their meeting on Wednesday. County commissioners and staffers kept six feet apart during their meeting on Wednesday.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Grady Hawkins is bringing a sense of urgency to an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss possible modifications to the coronavirus emergency declaration the county issued on March 14.


“The real critical issue is we must get the public to understand that we’re facing a horrible emergency and we’ve got to stop it and the only way we can stop is to get all hands on deck and only you can stop it,” he said Thursday afternoon. “It’s hard to live in a bubble but we’ve got to do it. People have got to isolate until this over.”
While Hawkins stopped short of saying commissioners would order a stay-at-home order as Buncombe and several other populous counties have done, he said it’s imperative for people to understand that they should stay home if they can.
“We are going to certainly take a look (at the order) in view of some of the newest data that’s been coming forth,” he said. “What we’re going to do tomorrow is a try to give a little bit more definition of what stay at home means, shelter in place, quarantine and try to clarify some of that tomorrow hopefully in a little more detail, the essential things you need to do, (and give) a little more detailed guidance to help people understand a little more what’s going on.”
During a meeting of the regional planning agency Land of Sky on Wednesday, the county’s director of business and community development, John Mitchell, said that Henderson County was not considering a shelter in place order.
“I want to say the county — there’s lot of rumors going around about shelter in place and what the governor may do,” he said. “In Henderson County we are not discussing (a shelter in place order) at this time.”
County Manager Steve Wyatt said “negotiations” had been taking place among commissioners.
“What I can tell you is that modifications to the existing emergency order will be discussed and potentially there will be action taken,” he said. “Things change by the hour, things develop quickly and things are changing quickly. More information is coming in. The board is evaluating that information and working to do what’s best.”
A notification of the meeting on Thursday morning said commissioners also would review special procedures for electronic meetings. Hawkins said he had just received information on Thursday afternoon from N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein on the electronic meetings.
“We’re going to try to take a look to see how we can optimize our transparency and in the meantime keep everybody safe,” Hawkins said. After getting guidance from County Attorney Russ Burrell, commissioners will consider a process “along the lines the attorney general has put out for us so we can conduct necessary business for the county and the state that doesn’t endanger anyone.”