In an open letter on Sunday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields urged residents not to perpetuate “baseless rumors” about the coronavirus and warned of scammers exploiting the pandemic.
“We are going through times like we have never seen before,” Fields wrote in the letter, which was distributed through his office’s social media pages and through the public advisory service Nixle. “Together, we can and will get through this.”
Gov. Roy Cooper recently ordered schools, bars and other facilities across North Carolina to temporarily close to the public in an effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Fields wrote that his agency has received “no credible information of any further closures or personal quarantine.”
“I pledge to you that if that happens, as soon as I am able to verify, I will share that information with you,” he wrote. “At this time, it is imperative that we not spread baseless rumors about COVID-19. Be informed and base conversations on fact.”
New York, California and other states have issued “stay-at-home” edicts, but no such restrictions have been announced in North Carolina. As of Sunday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases in the state accounted for only 1.6 percent of the national total. There have been two confirmed cases in Moore County.
In his letter, Fields also urged residents to “beware of scams.”
“Unfortunately, there will be people that will attempt to take advantage of you and this situation,” he wrote. “Do not fall prey to them. No law enforcement agency, bank, state or federal authority will ever ask you to provide personal information such as (your) social security number, date of birth or bank account numbers on the phone.”
Fields said any resident asked to provide that information should call his office “immediately” at 910-947-2931. Individuals with general questions or concerns about the coronavirus can call the county’s COVID-19 hotline from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 910-947-4509.
The sheriff’s office has taken steps to curb the threat of COVID-19. Last week, the agency implemented policies to protect jail inmates and detention officers from the disease.
Inmates’ temperatures are being checked before they’re booked, and new arrivals are kept in isolation from the jail’s general population for 96 hours. On-site jail visitation has been suspended, but inmates will receive limited free calls and messaging service for the next four weeks.
“The sheriff feels strongly that the inmate population should have communication with their families during this trying time,” Capt. Bill Flint told the Moore County Board of Commissioners last week. “Thanks to the technology at the detention center and a partnership with our contract provider, we can make that happen.”