Godwin: Commissioners Will Not Enact Ordinances To Impose Civil Penalties  

SMITHFIELD – Johnston County Commissioner Chairman Ted Godwin says the County will not enact any new ordinances to impose a civil penalty for anyone violation provisions of the Governors Executive Orders related to COVID-19.

His response follows a letter sent Wednesday to 36 counties across North Carolina,  including Johnston County,  by the NC Department of Health and Human Services and the NC Department of Public Safety.  The letter asked the counties, whose COVID-19 trends are moving in the wrong direction, to help slow the spread of the virus by promoting the 3 Ws and to consider location actions to improve compliance with the executive orders.

Some of the examples of local actions suggested included adopting an ordinance that would impose a civil penalty for violating provisions, issuing a local Emergency Proclamation setting higher standards to address COVID, and supporting the local health direction by issuing and enforcing an Imminent Hazard Abatement Order against entities whose actions present an imminent hazard to their community.

In a statement to Johnston County Report, Chairman Godwin stated,We’re concerned with the direction of our numbers with respect to COVID testing and hospital admittance. We stay in close touch with Dr. (Marilyn) Pearson at the Health Department and with hospital officials.  In discussing with the board members informally and with county manager, we are strongly encouraging our citizens to follow Dr. Pearson’s advice: Wear your mask, Keep your distance and Wash your hands.”

“The governor has asked certain counties to put mandatory requirements in place at the county level, including Johnston County.  We think it’s important to protect yourself and your neighbor. We think it’s just common sense in this circumstance. But people have the right to make up their own minds. It’s their freedom to do so.”

“We will continue to urge citizens to be smart thru social media and any and all presentations around the county, including weekly phone meetings with all municipalities in the county. But we will not enact ordinances to mandate compliance with threat of civil penalties,” Chairman Godwin said.

Letters from the State were sent to leaders in Alamance, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Caswell, Catawba, Chowan, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Davidson, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Graham, Greene, Guilford, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Moore, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pitt, Randolph, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Scotland, Union, Wake, Watauga and Wayne counties.