Wilmington Mayor On What's Next

Apr 5, 2020

Government officials are warning that the next few weeks will be crucial in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. In the U.S., more than 9,500 people have already died from the virus. In North Carolina, 2,600  are now infected with the virus.  WHQR spoke with Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, to get his latest assessment of the local situation.

Mayor Bill Saffo: "Well, things are going as well as can be expected. I mean, you know, nobody's ever had to deal with a pandemic in a hundred years and we are all working together - the city, the County, the beach communities, trying to speak with one unified voice and you know, telling people to stay in and try to avoid going out if at all possible. And I think the vast majority of people are hearing to that. Some are not. We think that the more that people can stay at home and stay out of the line of fire with this virus, the better off we all are in this thing much quicker.

But it's been a, obviously a learning curve for all of us, all from the federal level to the state level to the local levels.

I think that the declaration state of emergency and the amendments that we as a community have put in place are the right things to do and will hopefully get us to a place where we keep our numbers down. We're working on it every month. I mean, we've got a team of people and people here that are working on this stuff round the clock

VW: With the City, County, state and federal restrictions. I’m thinking that's pretty much as far as we can go. And the hope is that, you know, flatten the curve as they say.

Bill Saffo

MAYOR: Well, we hope so Vince. The issue that we're concerned with is that, you know, it's kind of been a piecemeal response in that it has kind of been rolled out state by state by state. We still have South Carolina that still doesn't have a shelter in place regulation. We have other states like North Carolina where we're at about a week and a half ago, over a week ago. So, you know, kind of a disjointed kind of response to it. And I think that if we had just one uniform response to it and just put everybody in place for 30 days, you can get out of this thing much quicker. But as we kind of put them on just an ultimate response nationwide, it kind of just continues. But I would call this agony that we're all dealing with.

The governor, has shown tremendous leadership. I know that some call it 50% of the people say that we're not doing enough. The other 50% of people say we're doing too much. Obviously we’ve got a serious concern about businesses. I know we've got to lose a lot of small businesses in our community. A lot of them are suffering.

I think the unemployment claims in the state to over 300,000 people that are filing claims that this week as opposed to we were averaging about 3000 a week. So you can see that our unemployment numbers are dramatically increasing in the state and in the region.

VW: Anything you'd like to say to the folks of Wilmington who are listening?

MAYOR: This is obviously a very serious situation. We want you to be safe and be healthy, we're all in this thing together. By keeping yourself healthy and safe and free of this virus , you help us on combating it and getting us to the point where we need to be to get through it. We all have a responsibility to play here. We all have a shared responsibility and shared values in this thing and and we're all on the front lines here. The local governments, state governments, federal governments, any individual citizens have a role to play in this. And so we are getting information from our state officials and our health officials. We're sharing it with the public as quickly as we can. The determination as to what these regulations and prohibitions are are coming directly from our health professionals, our doctors. New Hanover Regional Medical Center, head of the County Health Department, Health and Human Service Secretary in Raleigh and the CDC.

So we're combining all of that information and we're getting it off to the public as quickly as we can. And you know, this is a serious pandemic and we have to keep ourselves healthy. And if we can do that, then we are doing our part.”

That’s Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo, speaking with WHQR.