A message from the Polk County Chairman

Published 9:47 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020

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Letter to the editor: 

On March 16th I met with our Emergency, Health and County leaders concerning the complications surrounding the Covid-19 virus and its effects on our citizens in Polk County. As a result of the meeting, I (as Polk County Commissioner Chairman) declared a state of emergency for Polk County.

At that same meeting, we developed a plan of action to handle the consequences and effects this was going to have on our citizens.

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County Manager Marche Pittman, Health Administrator Josh Kennedy, Emergency Director Bobby Arledge, EMS Director Michael Crater, Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene, St. Luke’s Hospital CEO Michelle Fortune and other administrative assistants were present.

Our greatest concerns were (and still are) the safety and health of our Polk County citizens and also the effect this was going to have on our economy and businesses in Polk County; while at the same time complying with all the Executive orders coming down from the State.

I feel the balance we wanted to keep was to first of all protect our citizens (and especially those at high risk from contracting the Covid-19 virus) and at the same time use a common sense approach in interpreting the Executive orders on restrictions of businesses (who could or could not stay open) such as restaurants.

Also, all the other do’s and don’ts were a concern. For example, could we use outside seating in keeping with the new guidelines of social distancing, etc. However, in all of this, whether I agree with it or not, these are Executive orders coming from the State and are put in place to minimize the spread of Covid-19.

I want to compliment the leadership in these hard times. Josh Kennedy, our Health Administrator, has a lot of responsibilities and difficult decisions he must make at this time. 

Polk County Schools Superintendent, Aaron Greene, has succeeded in complying with State directives, and in getting childcare and food supplies to our parents and students in need.

Bobby Arledge, our Emergency Director, has been vigilant in making sure vital information gets out to

our citizens. Emergency situations always seem to abound at these times and Bobby has been working in conjunction with our EMS Director, Michael Crater in setting up and administering testing, and at all times protecting the front line health care workers.

I would also like to thank St. Luke’s Hospital CEO, Michelle Fortune for all the help and hard work and sacrifices she and the hospital are making for the health of our Polk County citizens with facilities, supplies, etc.

Marche Pittman, our County Manager, spends many extra hours managing and making sure all the County Departments are following protocol and protecting our employees; while at the same time following all the Executive orders coming down from the State.

Even in the midst of all this, our ever changing, everyday responsibilities continue. I feel that, as your County Commissioner Chairman, I have specific responsibilities in assuring that we Commissioners enhance the operations of our Healthcare and Emergency officials and at the same time assuring that we don’t interrupt the messaging and administration of our professionals.

In the Commissioners meeting on March 16th, we commissioners directed our County Manager to set aside a significant amount of money to impact and supply the emergency operations of the Covid-19 Virus. We have also changed our Commissioners meeting schedules to one meeting per month for the next few months to try and stay within the guidelines of gathering and social distancing as much as possible.

Let me assure you that we are in constant communication with our Health and Emergency personnel in this ever-changing situation.

I also feel responsible as a Commissioner to make sure that the best interests of our Polk County citizens are always at the forefront. This is a challenge, for I don’t always agree with an Executive order from the state, as I feel it puts undue burdens on our businesses trying to survive these crises. But as your Commissioner, I must keep in mind that if we can save one life because we, as a county, made some sacrifices and followed protocols put forth by the state, it is worth it.

I want to encourage you as Citizens to follow the new social distancing guidelines. This is something everyone can do, and we can still communicate and encourage one another.

There is a new Executive order that came down from Governor Cooper on March 27th, and will go in effect March 30th at 5:00 p.m. The Order in its entirety can be veiwed at https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/200327FAQ-SAH-Order final.pdf. We as Commissioners do not anticipate adding anything more restrictions to this order.

I have had some calls from Citizens asking if Polk County is going to be completely shut down. I say No and let me assure you as a commissioner that it is not our intent to add anything to this Executive order.

Another question I have been asked frequently by the Polk County business owners is “Is My business an essential business and can I stay open and continue to work?” I have read the order in its entirety

and most of our day to day businesses are considered essential businesses. I would encourage you to go to the site given in this article. It is pretty clear what the Governor deems essential.

Also, I want to say thank you to our Polk County citizens for all your cooperation and efforts in keeping the Covid-19 Virus from spreading. I am happy to say that at this time we have only two positive cases of Covid-19 in Polk County out of 22,000 to 23,000 Citizens and no fatalities.

I also want to say a special thank you to my fellow Commissioners. In times like these, as Chairman I look to them for advice and counsel. It takes all five Commissioners. In a multitude of counsel there is safety. To Polk County Citizens – we are always better together! Be innovative, care for each other, toe tap, bump elbows, keep the distance, practice kind words and pray to our God in Heaven for protection and health. 

Stay Strong Polk County.


Your County Commissioner Chairman,

Myron Yoder