On Wednesday, April 29, the Gaston County Board of Commissioners Chair, Tracy Philbeck, publicly announced his intent to sign an order designed to reopen the county.

The order, in part, reads:

The Gaston County Board of Commissioners supports the reopening of businesses and houses of worship throughout Gaston County as long as they adhere to strict social distancing practices, follow all cleaning and disinfection requirements, and abide by all maximum capacity restrictions required by local and state authorities.

The order is designed to take effect at 5:00 PM on April 29.

Philbeck joined the John Locke Foundation for a virtual town hall on Saturday, April 25, to discuss this plan for Gaston County.

In the recorded live stream, Philbeck said he has analyzed the data and does not believe it supports a continued shutdown of Gaston County:

Our hospital, CaroMont Health, is not even near capacity… When our health department looks at our data, we have 23 active cases. Out of our 130 [confirmed cases], 107 have already recovered, we have 23 active cases and three people in the hospital. The data does not support continuing to lockdown Gaston County.

Philbeck shared some a preview of the order on Saturday:

Our order is going to follow phase one of white house guidance, we are going to open up every single business as long as they practice social distancing and proper sanitation and hygiene… we can get people back to work…

Our message is, “we are open to do business.” If you can’t feed your families, you can’t get to work, you can’t get the surgery that you need, the governor is going to have to own that. There is no data he can give Gaston county to support a shutdown.

Watch the full town hall on our Facebook page here or on our website here.