Acknowledging that people are being forced to make huge sacrifices to protect one another from harm, Mayor Steven Schewel ordered Durham to stay home on Wednesday.
His order goes into effect Thursday and will close many businesses, limit the size of all gatherings and ban people from public roads except for limited reasons.
In a press conference in a nearly empty City Council chambers, Schewel said it was critical that he act before the coronavirus illness COVID-19 overwhelms Durham’s medical providers the way it has elsewhere, including Italy.
“This is our window for social distancing to work. This is our window to intervene,” the mayor said during his announcement. 9th Street Journal reporter Kristi Sturgill reports on more specifics here.
Schewel made this dramatic move as the number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 continued to rise in Durham County and across the state. Health officials also reported the first deaths in North Carolina from the illness Wednesday.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Durham County reached 84 on Wednesday although the true size of the outbreak here is unknown due to limited testing.
With this new order, Durham joins some other North Carolina communities and jurisdictions all over the country trying to reduce the toll of coronavirus by forcing people to isolate themselves.
These orders aren’t all cookie-cutter, 9th Street Journal reporter Ben Leonard explains in his look at five features in Durham’s emergency measure.