coronavirus coverage


North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is hopeful the state can move forward with its planned reopening by May 8th.  However, there are four indicators – or metrics – that state officials say must go in the right direction before they greenlight Phase 1.  

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Covid-19 is hitting people of color, especially African American communities, much harder than white communities.  The impact shows up as both a higher percentage of positive cases and a higher number of deaths from the disease.  But there’s also a different kind of price that people of color are likely to pay.

Starting Wednesday, April 29th, New Hanover County will offer free drive-through diagnostic testing for the coronavirus. The County will continue this service for four weeks, to help determine how the virus is affecting the Cape Fear Region. WHQR explains how the process will work.

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Physicians, obstetricians & gynecologists, and certified nurse-midwives all agree -- hospitals remain safe places to give birth during the coronavirus pandemic. But the virus is leading some pregnant women to consider alternative birthing options. WHQR checks in with some local moms-to-be and healthcare providers.


The Stay At Home Order in North Carolina is now extended through May 8th.  State officials say it’s clear the restrictions are working to flatten the curve and slow the spread of Covid-19.  They also lay out the plan for gradually reopening the state.

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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. 


Covid-19 is now the leading cause of death in the United States.  Officials in North Carolina are watching the state numbers rise as calls for reopening the state grow louder.


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.


Each Sunday night at 5 PM, on a Wilmington street named for a southern flower, a few neighbors gather outside their houses for the big show.  Children, parents, grandparents, and even some college students sit or stand at social distances for a new way to stay connected. 

 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.

The Artist’s Way, A Course In Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self, first landed in booktores before the age of Amazon – in 1992.  Almost three decades later, Author Julia Cameron can point to a long list of published works, more than 40, fiction and nonfiction -- many of them bestsellers.  They include The Vein of Gold, The Right To Write, Finding Water, Transitions, and her own memoir, Floor Sample.  The woman who "invented the way people renovate the creative soul", according to The New York Times, has used her own life as a laboratory for developing her processes

Pleasure Island Rentals

If the stay-at-home orders last into summer, businesses like Britt’s Donuts on the Carolina Beach boardwalk in New Hanover County will have to stay shuttered.  In Brunswick County, Southport has cancelled its summer market and concert series, and the official North Carolina Fourth of July Festival, which draws tens of thousands of tourists.  

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.


The Coronavirus crisis has not left many sectors of the economy alone in its destruction – with the possible exception of manufacturers of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, ventilators and other items in short supply right now.  

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Beginning Friday, April 10th, independent contractors and people who are self-employed can apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, otherwise known as the "PPP" (Triple P). This federally funded program is designed to help small businesses cover payroll and other expenses.

Vince Winkel

In North Carolina schools are closed, and for many the school year appears to be over. That means thousands of high schoolers in the Cape Fear region are at home. Many use Zoom for lectures, and email to turn in assignments. Their parents juggle work, if they still have a job, with helping their kids. WHQR  checks in with one Wilmington family.

Just over three weeks ago, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper closed all public schools. For now, his order will remain in effect until May 15th. So with kids out of school -- and with strict social distancing measures in place, how are working parents coping?

Vince Winkel

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.

March 2020

Weekend weather in the Cape Fear region will be sunny and warm, according to the National Weather Service.  And it has authorities deeply concerned the temptations of spring will cause residents to ignore the statewide Stay At Home order.

Vince Winkel

This week 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance. North Carolina has already processed 355,000 unemployment claims. That number is expected to climb rapidly. For many people unemployment is new territory. 

WHQR/Nick Santillo

Because of COVID-19, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they won’t have to meet environmental standards during the outbreak. What does that mean for the Cape Fear Region?

Finding a way to serve people who are homeless is posing new problems in the age of COVID-19.  

Maintaining physical distance is increasingly difficult as shelters see higher demand.  

Beth Gaglione / Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina - Wilmington

Since last week, Governor Roy Cooper has handed down a statewide Stay At Home Order.  Some counties and municipalities have gone even further with stay-at-home guidance.  For example, New Hanover County has defined specific businesses that must close such as auto dealerships and hotels and motels. When there are discrepancies between the state and local orders, the more restrictive version takes precedence.  

Vince Winkel

Over 270,000 unemployment insurance claims have been filed in North Carolina in the past two weeks, and Governor Roy Cooper is seeking to increase benefits by $600. Many of those most in need work in the restaurant and service industries.




Help is on the way for small businesses and families – from the state and from federal stimulus checks.  But there’s more.  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has issued a new Executive Order to help people worried about paying bills on April 1st. 

Governor Roy Cooper has issued a statewide Executive Order.   It requires all North Carolinians to stay at home except for absolute necessities. 


Coronavirus Edition #2.  So much has changed in a week.  Many more people are working from home – or not working at all.  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has lowered the threshold for mass gatherings from 100 to 50.  He’s ordered more business closures – gyms, movie theaters, salons.  He’s extended public school closures to May 15th. 


As North Carolina sees the number of positive COVID-19 tests rise – now over 600 cases covering more than half of the state – officials continue to emphasize social distancing.  

Vince Winkel

The Chemours Company in Fayetteville has scaled back both well-sampling for PFAS and the installation of filtration systems because of the coronavirus. Chemours’ request to suspend those operations has been approved by The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.