Greensboro, Guilford County and High Point announced a stay-at-home proclamation that further restricts social contact at a press conference on Wednesday, March 25 at the Old Guilford County Court House.
The order will close many more businesses in Guilford County, makes travel for anything except an essential purpose illegal and orders people not to gather in groups of more than 10.
Restaurants and bars have been closed. Churches have been closed. All the recreation centers, fitness centers, libraries, gyms, playgrounds, theaters and just about any other place that people generally gather have all been closed.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners even closed its meeting on Thursday, March 19 to the public – an action that many believe is in violation of North Carolina’s open meetings law – to reduce the opportunity of spreading COVID-19.
Then, on Friday, March 20, the Guilford County commissioners held a press conference, inviting the same journalists, who had been barred from attending the meeting because of the COVID-19 emergency, to gather in the same room with the same people for a press conference.
If there is scientific evidence that indicates that COVID-19 can be spread during a meeting but not during a press conference, the Guilford County commissioners should share that with the public.
The Greensboro City Council postponed its meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 17 because of COVID-19, but then held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, March 17 where no city business was conducted.
After that meeting the City Council held a press conference with about 30 people in attendance.
At the press conference on March 25, held to announce the stay-at-home proclamation and presumably to announce what businesses would be required to close, no information was conveyed that could not have been done by email.
During the question and answer period of that press conference, Guilford County Communications Manager Worley Smith answered many of the questions by directing the questioner to the website. Smith could not answer questions about what businesses would be closed by the order, or even what categories of businesses would be closed.
City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson asked if chiropractors would be allowed to remain open after the stay-at-home proclamation went into effect. She was directed to the website for that information.
There was no information conveyed to the press that could not have done – more efficiently, more accurately and, in keeping with the spirit of the stay-at-home proclamation – by email.
There was more, and more accurate, information on a three-page handout from the City of Greensboro on the proclamation than was conveyed at the entire press conference.