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‘We shouldn’t be that comfortable just yet’: Lax safety standards raise concern

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:35 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - As we head into summer and restrictions continue to loosen, some are worried that we might be leaving some of our safety precautions behind too soon.

Wilmington City Council member Kevin Spears voiced some of his concerns during the council meeting Tuesday night.

Spears hopes citizens and businesses continue to uphold some of the safety measures that were essential not too long ago.

“We’re moving too quickly to let our guard down. We know that COVID is still a thing,” Spears said on Wednesday. “There’s still the threat of COVID-19 around and we shouldn’t be that comfortable just yet, especially if we’re not taking the steps to get to that comfort level.”

Life almost seems back to business as usual, even though the threat of COVID-19 still exists.

One example Spears used was the grocery store. He has taken note that carts are no longer sanitized between customers — a process and safety precaution he does not think should fall by the wayside.

“One thing that made people feel safe — or made me feel safe — was the fact that I saw the buggies being sanitized and being sprayed and the ability to have or wipe or spray yourself,” he said. “You know there’s a comfort level in that and now it seems so lax on behalf of the businesses.”

Matt Lebo said he sees that things are slowly opening back up and thinks that the timing is right as long as people are being safe.

There have been instances when he has felt uncomfortable.

“I think the biggest thing is just the grocery store,” Lebo said. “You know the first time going in without a mask is kind of weird. You kind of feel a little bit awkward but, you know, you get used to it and people are more respectful of your space.”

New Hanover County Public Health director David Howard said their take home message continues to be that people need to get vaccinated.

As of Wednesday, about 46% New Hanover County residents were fully vaccinated. Howard said they’d like to see that number at 70% or greater.

Howard echoed Spears in that the virus that causes COVID-19 is still very much out there, even as we are slowly getting back to normal.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is not going away, so the opening up is not an indication that the virus is gone — it only means we’ve suppressed it to a level that we can try to get the economy and our social lives and our work lives back to normal,” he said.

Howard’s advice moving forward as restrictions loosen is to maintain good hygiene.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is still out there like a lot of other viruses. We’re actually seeing an increase in other viruses as well as we loosen restrictions, get back to social lives, and we drop the masking, face covering mandates and use of those face coverings. So the advice is to continue good hygiene, washing hands, cleaning surfaces, staying away from large crowds if you don’t need to be around large crowds,” he said.

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