Coronavirus

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Daily Updates from WHQR on closures, openings, local, state and federal efforts and other developments in  the coronavirus battle.   

Vince Winkel

At his Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday, June 24, Governor Roy Cooper announced his decision to extend Phase II restrictions and require mandatory masks in public places. Meanwhile, Wilmington has launched an initiative which allows businesses on some streets to move off the sidewalk and on to the street to serve customers during specific hours.

Vince Winkel

The Downtown Alive initiative kicked off last night in Wilmington as sections of downtown were closed to traffic to allow restaurants and stores to expand on to sidewalks and streets. 

NC.gov

At his Covid-19 press conference on Wednesday, June 24th, Governor Roy Cooper announced his decision to extend Phase II restrictions and require mandatory masks in public places.

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In early April, WHQR spoke with a Wilmington native working as an ER nurse on the frontlines of the pandemic. We recently followed up with Michael—that's not his real name—to see how life in the ER has changed. 

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Colleges and universities are working out how to welcome students back to fall classes while balancing the health risks and financial pressures of the pandemic.  WUNC's Liz Schlemmer and Dave Dewitt have this special report.

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It’s been a tough year in the world of municipal finance -- with the pandemic making it difficult if not impossible to predict how the economic crisis will affect localities. Nonetheless, the Wilmington City Council will vote Tuesday, June 16 on whether or not to adopt its proposed 2020-2021 fiscal year budget.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of our lives -- and mental health is no exception. According to a national survey across ten states, therapists are reporting increases in a variety of mental health issues as the pandemic drags on.

Vince Winkel

On Friday morning Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo announced several changes effective at 5 p.m. Friday as part of the next phase of the city’s State of Emergency Declaration. UPDATE:  Under the revised order breweries, wineries and distilleries will be permitted to re-open, provided they comply with reduced capacity and social distancing requirements.

Nick Santillo


Wilmington leaders have passed a resolution authorizing the City Manager to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic-related grant. The funds -- nearly $235,000 -- would be used by the Wilmington Police Department to buy equipment: ultraviolet lights for sterilization, first aid kits, and eight drones.

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The economic fallout from the coronavirus and the resulting  increase in unemployment could dramatically impact people’s access to health coverage. WHQR reports on how people can navigate their options during the pandemic.

RLH / WHQR

New Hanover County officials presented the proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1st at a meeting Monday morning.   With the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the beginning of what could be an above-average hurricane season, there is no proposed tax increase.  

Hannah Breisinger


As North Carolina and local governments continue to ease COVID-19 shutdown restrictions, leaders and health experts stress that we’re not in the clear yet. And, with so much uncertainty ahead, the Red Cross says blood donations are still critical.

RLH / WHQR

By May 12th, North Carolina was four days into Phase 1 of the reopening process.  Governor Roy Cooper says he’s encouraged by the initial numbers, but those pushing for earlier relaxation of restrictions are up against Cooper’s reliance on what he calls “data, facts and science.”

Town of Carolina Beach

Police, EMS, and other local government frontline workers are deemed essential personnel and need to continue to work during the pandemic. But what happens if they contract the virus on the job? WHQR reports on the resources available to them.

Vince Winkel

On Friday, Phase 1 of North Carolina’s coronavirus recovery plan went into effect. That meant that retail businesses across the state could begin to reopen.  A lot of shoppers were out this weekend.

RLH / WHQR

Depending on which grocery store you visit in the Cape Fear region, some employees might wear face coverings.  Some might not.  Costco is a notable exception in requiring some kind of nose and mouth covering for both employees and customers.  But as WHQR uncovered, the variance might be due to a common misunderstanding about the mask’s purpose. 

Nick Santillo for WHQR

Friday at 5 p.m. Phase 1 of Governor Roy Cooper’s reopening plan will take effect. The biggest change is that a wider range of retail stores will be allowed to open. Stores will still need to limit shoppers to 50% of capacity, and maintain sanitary and social distancing. This phase is set to last for at least two weeks. 

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 At its Tuesday, May 5 meeting, Wilmington’s City Council extended its state of emergency order until Friday, May 8 at 5 PM. At that time, Phase 1 of Governor Cooper’s reopening plan will take effect.

Natalie Tuinstra is a graduating senior at Wilmington's Hoggard High School. She’s taking five AP classes, and, like every other kid in America right now, she’s learning remotely.

If nothing else, coronavirus is teaching us how to live remotely, work and learn remotely, and perhaps even go to the doctor...online. WHQR looks into how telehealth or telemedicine is already changing healthcare.

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While New Hanover County’s stay-at-home order expires Wednesday, Apr. 29, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo has signed his own five-day-long proclamation in its place. Many of the restrictions are the same -- but a few have been lifted within city limits. 

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Nearly 50,000 farms are spread across North Carolina, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Together, they bring in $76 billion annually. But many are struggling in the midst of an economic shutdown.

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Cities, counties and states are moving at different speeds when it comes to lifting restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. That can create problems between neighboring states... like North and South Carolina. 

Vince Winkel


 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.

NHRMC

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that based on available data, pregnant women are not at an increased risk for the novel coronavirus. But for those women who do contract the disease, only about 4 to 5% become severely ill. WHQR reports on how local OB/GYNs are handling patients during the pandemic.

Vince Winkel

News coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic usually includes the daily statistics - number of new cases, number of those hospitalized, the number on ventilators, the number of deaths...all listed by state and also nationally. But the New Hanover Regional Medical Center has been reluctant to release that kind of detailed data. Ben Schachtman, Managing Editor of Port City Daily has been covering the story. He spoke with WHQR’s Vince Winkel.

 WFAE, WUNC, WHQR and other public radio stations from around North Carolina join together to look at the impact of COVID-19 on the health, economy, and education of the state.

Katelyn Freund

As businesses and organizations are shutting their doors in the wake of COVID-19, so are animal shelters. Last week, the New Hanover and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Offices announced adoptions have been suspended this month. But shelter animals are still finding foster homes -- through people who now have some extra time on their hands. 

Because of COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, theaters and concert halls are closed across most of the country. Here in the Cape Fear region all music venues, theaters, and galleries are shuttered. So painters and musicians are going virtual. WHQR visits with one artist who’s doing both.

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