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North Carolina’s Gaston County Defies Governor’s Shutdown Order

Tracy Philbeck, the county commissioner of Gaston County, North Carolina, announced that he signed an order to reopen the county by 5 PM Wednesday in defiance of Governor Roy Cooper’s stay at home order.

“Thousands are out of work, and the promised government assistance is to slow and inadequate to meet the needs. 

The health consequences, mental health consequences & economic consequences will destroy lives and our ability to take care of ourselves if we continue down this path.

We do not believe in a one size fits all approach in NC. In fact we believe a continued stay at home order will have a disastrous impact on our citizens. The cure may be worse than the disease”, Philbeck tweeted Wednesday.

Philbeck’s order to reopen Gaston county stands at odds with Governor Roy Cooper’s stay at home order, which has been extended until May 8th. A one-page document sent out by the Board of Commissioners known as “The Gaston Promise” highlights this:

“We understand that what the Board supports is not in lock step with the Governor’s executive order, but we support putting our citizens back to work and allowing them to worship corporately, both of which are their constitutional rights. In fact, we are reminded by Article I, Section 13 of our North Carolina Constitution, that “all persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” Worship – whether by oneself or corporately – is an inalienable right of the people.

Furthermore, it is no coincidence that our State’s founders listed the following atop all the rights guaranteed to North Carolinians in our Constitution’s Declaration of Rights: “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.” Work – whether at home or at one’s business – is also an inalienable right of the people.

The Board makes this promise to its people and expects a promise in return – that the citizens of Gaston County exercise their rights responsibly and that they use common sense as it relates to their own health and safety. The Board also reminds citizens throughout Gaston County that large gatherings, banquets, and concerts continue to be restricted. The restrictions on long term care facilities and nursing homes are also very much in place. Businesses governed by licensing boards at the state level are encouraged to consult with their respective boards.”

Gaston County officials are continuously monitoring COVID-19 data applicable to our community and communities across the State and will continue to make data-driven decisions for its citizens.”

 Philbeck announced on Facebook that there will be a virtual town hall to discuss the order and answer any questions at 4 PM Eastern.

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