COVID-19: On The Border

Apr 23, 2020

Cities, counties and states are moving at different speeds when it comes to lifting restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. That can create problems between neighboring states... like North and South Carolina. 

Brunswick County shares its southwest border with South Carolina. Lisa Pokoluk  -  a single working mom with  two children - lives just a few miles north of that border, in the town of Shallotte. She is concerned that South Carolina’s move to quickly return to normal puts others in the area at risk.  

“It does. I'm actually somebody who self-quarantined early. My dad's in hospice at home. So he's 87 and you know, if any of us get it, it's done. You know he's really going to be in bad shape.”

She says North Carolina has done well, so far, during the pandemic.

“You know, we are in a situation here in North Carolina, we've been pretty fortunate, especially in these rural coastal counties where we haven't seen a lot of COVID activity. And I'd like to keep it that way now that we're on the verge of going into what would be our tourist season. It's very concerning for me for beaches to be open that would cause people from up North that are experiencing a much greater risk of much greater activity of COVID up there to be coming here. And you know, even if hotels were closed, people have vacation homes here, they're not coming so far because the beaches aren't open. So as the more things open, the more we're going to see that activity. And then I'm concerned that the more our cases are going to go up.”

Bruce Lynch lives in Myrtle Beach, on the other side of the line.

“I am okay with it as long as it is done in a smart fashion; hopefully, maintaining the social distancing guidelines.”

But Lynch shares the concern about the arrival of  tourists. 

“I am concerned about, possibly trying to ramp up for the tourist season since, we don't seem to be a hotspot, but most of our local tourists our yearly tourists come from, some of the hotspots around the country. You know, New York, New Jersey, the Northeast, cause we are a day drive away versus, you know, flying to Florida. So that's my, that's my only concern. I'm not, I haven't really heard about how they're going to handle like the tourist part of it that, you know, right now the governor had a mandate that anybody who comes to the area, stays in a quarantine for 14 days. I don't know how strictly that's been enforced.” 

Lisa Pokoluk doesn’t have much faith in people following social distance guidelines. She recounts a trip to a Brunswick County beach a few weeks ago, when they were still open but people were being encouraged to stay apart.

“And I got to Ocean Isle Beach and there were these six groups of teenagers with more than 20 kids playing football, wrestling, rolling around. And unfortunately I would love to say that if we opened the beaches and started to open things, that people would do the responsible thing, right. That they would do their best to social distance, that they would stay in small groups, be with only their people, their family, that kind of thing. People they already cohabitate with. That's not what I'm seeing. You know, that's not what we're seeing even with stay at home orders. So unfortunately I feel like the more we relax, that the worst that's going to get. People are not doing a good job of policing themselves in my estimation.”

Vince Winkel, WHQR News.