GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - Gaston County announced on Thursday a 'Stay-at-Home' order that will take effect this Friday at 5 p.m.
The order was announced Thursday afternoon in the Board of Commissioners' meeting room.
"A lot of people need to stop being selfish," Gaston County Commissioner Tracy Philbeck said who explained he personally knows someone who is in the hospital with COVID-19.
Gaston County held off on following what Mecklenburg County and then Cabarrus County did with similar orders this week until evidence was present in the community that such a move was needed.
CaroMont Health officials notified Gaston County leadership Thursday morning that the first case community spread of COVID-19 has now been documented and the hospital system was asking for such a designation.
Cases of COVID-19 increased from 5 to 11 in the past 24 hours. The order reduces the size of gatherings from no more than 50 to no more than 10.
The order will remain in place until Thursday, April 16, but can be extended as conditions warrant.
“We have experienced signs of community spread,” Chairman Tracy Philbeck said. “It is clear to me that we have to be swift and act as local government to do what we can do to make sure that this virus does not spread beyond what is manageable.”
Gaston County’s order is similar to those adopted this week in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties but differs in that it is slightly less restrictive on the manufacturing industry.
The county is setting up a hotline that businesses and citizens can call if they have questions about the order. They can call the ‘Stay-At-Home’ Community Hotline between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 704-866-3170.
This hotline is separate from the Coronavirus Information Line that is already in place. Citizens with questions about the virus or health-related questions can call 704-862-5303.
Gaston County Government employees will institute its remote-working plan beginning Monday, March 30, utilizing key personnel.
Gaston County will continue to serve its citizens as it is doing now but through online and telephonic services.
Non-essential employees will be paid through administrative leave for up to seven weeks.
“We should be calm,” Philbeck said. “We should be smart, and we should consider others at this time.”