Vince Winkel

For ongoing reporting and coverage on COVID-19, as well as a case tracker, go here.

For an up-to-date list of resources available to our community during the coronavirus outbreak, go here

Gathered below are general updates on closures, openings, local, state and federal efforts and other developments in the coronavirus battle.   

This week researchers from North Carolina State University released new findings in a study of PFAS contaminants in the blood samples taken from Wilmington volunteers. 

Vince Winkel

With a 4 – 1 vote, New Hanover County Commissioners voted to approve a letter of intent to sell New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina continues to rise. Thursday afternoon Gov. Roy Cooper addressed both the increase, and the issue of schools reopening. 

Vince Winkel

The Partnership Advisory Group has voted unanimously to recommend Novant Health as the best choice for the future of the Regional Medical Center. Next week, the Board of Trustees will consider the matter, and on July 13 the decision reaches the County Board of Commissioners. 

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

As the decision draws near on the Medical Center’s future, the Partnership Advisory Group resumed its in-person meetings last night at the Burney Center on the UNCW campus. 

Vince Winkel

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, the protests began in Wilmington on May 30 with a gathering at 1898 Memorial Park. The next day, they moved to the steps of Wilmington City Hall. Every day and night since, people have gathered with signs protesting racism and police brutality.  One voice has stood out from the crowd. 

Nick Santillo for WHQR

It was three years ago this weekend that the story broke...there are chemical contaminants in the Cape Fear that are also in our drinking water.  WHQR’s Vince Winkel has been following the story from the beginning.  He looks back over what’s happened...and where we are today.

Vince Winkel

Two demonstrations in Wilmington over the weekend. Both were about George Floyd – the black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last week. Saturday afternoon’s was peaceful. Sunday evening’s turned into a confrontation. Just before 10 pm, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo declared a state of emergency and put a curfew in place until 6 am Monday morning.  WHQR’s Vince Winkel was at both events and filed this report.

Vince Winkel

Over the weekend, protests continued all across the country over the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died from the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer. At least fifteen states and the District of Columbia have either activated or requested the National Guard to assist local law enforcement. In Wilmington, the Saturday demonstration at 1898 Memorial Park was peaceful. 

Vince Winkel

It was a holiday weekend and the official start of summer, and for residents of coastal Carolina it was back to beaches as usual. In two weeks or so, we’ll know if the celebration was premature. 

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.

UNC-TV

Gov. Roy Cooper has announced that Phase 2 of the reopening will begin Friday afternoon. Restaurants and salons will be able to open at a limited capacity, but bars, gyms, and movie theaters will remain closed. That isn’t what a lot of people had expected. 

Vince Winkel

This Morning New Hanover County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Partnership Advisory Group’s recommendation to focus on three potential partners for New Hanover Regional Medical Center: Atrium Health, Duke Health and Novant Health.  The vote came after some spirited debate. 

Vince Winkel

UPDATED MONDAY 10:30 am. On Monday morning, New Hanover County Commissioners voted unanimously to allow the PAG to move forward in studying three medical center proposals.  A June 22 public hearing was also scheduled.

Last week the hospital’s Board of Trustees voted in favor of that move.

NOAA

Hurricane season officially starts June 1. And the 2020 Atlantic season is forecast to be more active than usual, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some are even calling for an “extremely active” season. New Hanover County is preparing for the worst. 

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.

Vince Winkel

At its Thursday meeting, the Partnership Advisory Group, charged with recommending a future for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, narrowed its focus from the six submitted proposals to three it believes are worth further consideration.  

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. 

Vince Winkel

At least anecdotally, it seems that a few months of isolation has triggered a need for human contact. Old friends are connecting after years of being out of touch.  Have you heard from an old friend lately? 

Vince Winkel

Six proposals were made public last week regarding the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. A group opposed to selling the facility, Save Our Hospital, did not like what it saw.  WHQR’s Vince Winkel spoke with the organization’s President, Gene Merritt.

file photo

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

On Tuesday New Hanover County published online the six proposals it received regarding the possible future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center. County Commissioners are slated to decide on one of the proposals, or not, later this year. The proposals range from $1.25 to over $3 billion.

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.

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.

Vince Winkel

Early Thursday morning the pedestrian bridge which connects the north and south towers of Wilmington’s River Place was lowered into place. It's 40 feet long, 13 feet high and now rests  74 feet above ground level on the north side, and 71 feet on south side.

Vince Winkel

Six months ago, Hurricane Florence pounded the Cape Fear Region, with a mix of strong winds and record-setting rain. Today, Wilmington and the rest of Southeastern North Carolina are still in recovery mode.

Vince Winkel

The New Hanover County Airport Authority has a new chairperson... and for the first time in its history, the chair is a woman. Donna Girardot was appointed to the position last week. She becomes Chair as Wilmington International Airport goes through another year of growth. WHQR sat down with Girardot, to discuss her new role.

Vince Winkel

New Jersey decided late last year on a regulatory first:  to establish stringent standards for two types of perfluorochemicals in their environment.  According to a November press release, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection is the first to set maximum contaminant levels for perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorononanoic acid, or PFNA.  GenX is one of more than a dozen similar compounds found in the Cape Fear River, the source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of southeastern North Carolina residents. 

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