The unprecedented move, just days ago, to cancel events that might draw more than 100 people came from an Executive Order out of the North Carolina Governor’s office. This statewide mandate is now enforceable, yet it’s hardly the most extreme measure officials have taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus – known as COVID-19.
Each day seems to bring a new restriction. Schools are now closed across the state. Restaurants and bars have shuttered their dine-in – or drink-in services -- with takeout options available for those businesses that choose to use it. People have reported lines at Costco, as store staff limits the number of people allowed in at one time. Public libraries, the museum, the Battleship, are all closed in New Hanover County.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced new economic relief for workers and business owners affected by the shutdowns. On March 17th, Cooper lifted some restrictions on applying for unemployment benefits and declared that employers are not responsible for those benefits paid due to COVID-19.
The goal of all these restrictions is to slow the spread of the virus – so medical systems don’t get overwhelmed. As of March 18th, there are 63 presumptive cases in North Carolina spread across 18 counties. Brunswick County has one of those cases – as does Onslow County.
Just before 4:30 PM Wednesday, New Hanover County announced its first presumptive positive case.
So far, Pender County sits at zero.
There has been a run on toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, water, and dry goods – although suppliers say production hasn’t slowed down. But officials say the run on toilet paper and water is emblematic of public anxiety over the Coronovirus. But there’s much we don’t know due in part to lack of widespread testing – especially since people can carry the virus and exhibit no symptoms.
This is an unusual edition of CoastLine. For the first time, all of our guests are joining us remotely – by phone. This host has never sat alone in the CoastLine studio during a live show – even with remote guests. We always have at least one "butt in the seat". But as we report this news, we are, in fact, heeding the recommendations ourselves. We suspended the pledge drive after a day. We have shut down the offices and those who can work remotely are.
On this edition, we take a wider look at the community in the Cape Fear region. We hear about some new options available to people, what myths about the Coronavirus are still floating around, and the new information we have about it – that changes almost daily.
Art Frampton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, specializing in virology, Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Jessica Loeper, Chief Communications Officer, New Hanover County
Phillip Tarte, Director of Public Health, New Hanover County
New Hanover County Public Health Coronavirus Call Center: (910) 798-6800
New Hanover County Updates and Health Information: www.Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus
New Hanover County info about closures and virtual options (this is also available on our Health.NHCgov.com/Coronavirus website in the tab “County Operations and Facility Updates”: https://news.nhcgov.com/news-releases/2020/03/new-hanover-county-shares-enhanced-guidance-to-reduce-risk-update-on-covid-19-planning/
Library resources (virtual and online reservation of books): NHCLibrary.org
Unemployment Help: https://des.nc.gov/apply-unemployment/
Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services online: Epass.NC.gov, or call 910-798-3500 (that is our local Health and Human Services number)
Disaster Coalition: https://www.newhanoverdisastercoalition.org/
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 info:
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html