Eagle, by Robert Wittmann and his staff at the Moore County Health Department, for their efforts at communication and keeping all of us informed about updates surrounding the coronavirus and its impacts.

Although this county department is an important one even in normal times, it often has operated below the radar in terms of public awareness. The 53-person operation does things as fundamental as inspecting restaurants, handling nutrition needs for low-income families and overseeing matters of public health.

But over the past month — and especially the last few weeks — the department has been in the crosshairs. The staff, led by its longtime director, Wittmann, and nursing director Melissa Fraley, have been conducting regular briefing sessions with county leaders and school officials. With their entire team, they have sought to calm fears and discourage people from panicking, stressing “common-sense” precautions they should take to protect themselves and prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is what we train for,” said Deputy Director Matt Garner.

Birdie, by Dr. John Byron and FirstHealth of the Carolinas CEO Mickey Foster and his executive team, for their transparency in letting the community know that Moore County’s first coronavirus patient was John Byron, one of its obstetrician/gynecologists.

Byron recently traveled to Germany, health officials said. Once he learned that Germany had been deemed a “high alert” country for the virus, he went into self-quarantine and began experiencing symptoms Tuesday.

Byron tested positive Wednesday. While he and the hospital could have let this news be cloaked by federal health-privacy laws, both he and FirstHealth proactively put out a statement to inform the community and his patients.

We all wish Byron well, in addition to other patients, both known and unknown, suffering from the virus or its symptoms. Transparency and honesty — which allow others to stay fully informed and take appropriate measures — will go a long way toward helping “flatten the curve.”

Birdie, by the innovative spirit of our business community to try to continue operating — in modest fashion — and serve people wanting everything from books to burgers and shoes to sushi.

With schools shut and everyone scaling way back on their lives and spending, many small local businesses were rushing to find new ways to keep going. The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, along with several other retailers, offered concierge shopping by taking merchandise to regular customers or providing drive-up purchasing.

Others, like Dollar General, set aside the first hour of their day exclusively for senior shoppers. Since seniors are among the most vulnerable with the virus, stores were trying to limit their exposure to other shoppers.

Other employers, like the golf resorts, were trying to keep people playing rounds with their free time. This is the busy season for golf courses, which have seen bookings fall precipitously this past week.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and our local businesses are doing a great job with their creativity.

Bogey, to all the hoarders out there. Although grocery stores and pharmacies are staying open even in the most hard-hit counties, some folks have been acting like it’s the end of times and buying in irrationally large quantities.

Whole aisles are getting cleaned out of basic products like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies. Even pasta and peanut butter are running low.

Officials promise that the trucks are still running from grocery warehouses and supplying stores. It’s taking a little longer, but the products are there. Please, buy only what you really need so others can get what they need. Your selfishness and misguided panic buying is more contagious than the coronavirus. Take deep breaths, people.

(1) comment

Kent Misegades

Good score card and fairly earned. As silly as it seems, hoarding is part of a free market and has consequences. Scarcity leads to higher prices which tells producers what to make more of. These are generally quickly replenished and prices drop. Hoarders eventually get a big black eye for depriving their neighbors. When governments step in with anti-gouging laws, suppliers actually scale back production and items become even scarcer. That is why we had long lines of cars at gas stations during the oil crisis. Free markets work well when left alone, in normal and abnormal times.

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