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Gaston County Leaders Urge Avoiding Large Gatherings

GASTONIA, N.C. – After a productive meeting with representatives from municipal governments, CaroMont Health and Gaston County Schools, Gaston County is strongly recommending Gaston County residents avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the foreseeable future.

The board is also prepared to declare a State of Emergency if a coronavirus case is confirmed within Gaston County or if neighboring counties see a spike in cases.

This comes as neighboring Mecklenburg County announced two presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 on Thursday. Gaston County has not had a positive test as of 3 p.m., Thursday afternoon, but continues to prepare for that very real possibility.

“We want to be out in front of this,” Board Chairman Tracy Philbeck said. “Now isn’t the time to play politics. We need to do what’s right for our citizens.”

The move came with the support of the county’s public health department, which has been trumpeting a proactive approach to the crisis. Department of Health and Human Services Director Chris Dobbins is pushing the message to residents of “Call Before You Come.” Put simply, Public Health wants residents to call their primary care providers and describe their symptoms and get instructions for what to do.

Gaston County is also taking the step of canceling all County-sponsored events where large gatherings would be present until further notice. This does not include Board of Commissioners meetings.

County Manager Dr. Kim Eagle arranged the meeting Thursday as part of the County’s ongoing response to the coronavirus. At the conclusion of the meeting, Chairman Philbeck and Director Dobbins spoke to the gathered media, which included WSOC-TV and The Gaston Gazette.

The full video of that press conference will be available this afternoon on Gaston County’s social media pages and website, gastonGov.com. That video is available for media use.

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