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Wilmington Leaders Discuss Reopening Timeline

Vince Winkel
Health experts say the city first needs to see a 14-day decrease in numbers before considering a gradual reopening.

 Like states and cities nationwide, Wilmington is grappling with the decision to either reopen or continue a shutdown through May. City officials discussed the topic at the Tuesday, Apr. 20 City Council meeting -- and experts stressed the city needs to continue what it’s been doing.

In 1918, Wilmington was responding to a different pandemic -- the Spanish influenza.


“Theaters, bars and churches were closed. The state of North Carolina banned all public assemblies to be enforced by local health departments. Infected persons were required to quarantine. Sound familiar, doesn't it?”

Mayor Bill Saffo stresses that obviously, the coronavirus is not the same as the Spanish flu -- but it’s not the common everyday flu either. Phillip Brown is Chief Physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center:

“Realize that in less than six weeks, we've had 25% more deaths from COVID-19 that we have from the flu all year. In North Carolina. It’s right here at home.”

According to Brown, the curve is flattening -- meaning the increase in cases is slowing down. But, the city first needs to see a 14-day decrease in numbers before considering a gradual reopening. For now, he says, city officials should focus on planning and preparing for this eventual transition.