This week, Graham County removed all barriers into the county. In March, the county essentially closed its borders to visitors as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local government officials cited the lack of a hospital in the county as a main reason to restrict movement.
Graham County Manager Becky Garland explained that the county had to establish more manned checkpoints and barriers than originally thought necessary.
“It brought us to the point where we had to say, ‘Let’s stop and regroup here,'” says Garland.
At first, the county planned to have just three checkpoints and two hard closures but after input from North Carolina Department of Transportation and 'leakage points' that changed to five checkpoints and two hard closures.
This cost the county an average of $92,000 per week, according to Garland. Commissioners voted to lift the closures at a meeting on Friday evening.
“The board had to weigh out the effectiveness of the checkpoints keeping the virus out verus what the taxpayers can sustain,” says Garland.
There still are no cases of COVID-19 in the county.
Graham County Health Director Beth Booth released a statement thanking residents for their commitment to COVID-19 prevention.
“In the days ahead, I would like to see that continued dedication to prevention,” says Booth in a press release. “ I would love to see us continue to stand strong against the spread of the virus. While we will likely see cases in the future, it is vitally important to prevent community spread.”
Graham County residents are still under stay-at-home orders and there is a 10 p.m. curfew.
All non-residents entering the county will be asked to observe a 14-day self-quarantine and bring in their own supplies.