CAPE FEAR REGION — Today marks the 365th day since Governor Roy Cooper passed an executive order prohibiting inside dining at restaurants and bars across North Carolina.
The next day, March 18, New Hanover County announced its first presumptive positive Covid-19 case; there were 63 positive cases in the entire state. One year later, the county has recorded 17,062 cases and 161 deaths, while the statewide numbers near 900,000 cases and 12,000 deaths.
AWARD-WINNING PHOTOJOURNALISM: Faces of Wilmington: Portraits of residents masking up for the Covid-19 crisis [Free read]
To mark the one-year anniversary of the state’s first major economic restriction, Port City Daily took a look back on a year that devastated the local economy, forced thousands of New Hanover parents to keep their children at home for remote learning, exacerbated food insecurities for low-income residents, and left thousands without jobs.
As regional numbers began to rise exponentially, Wilmington joined hundreds of other cities across the country last summer in protesting the death of George Floyd. It culminated in a chaotic, tear-gassed night on May 31 in downtown Wilmington.
The pandemic provided a burdensome backdrop for other major stories of the past year, from the sale of the county’s hospital for $1.25 billion to the rallies led by former President Donald Trump and his political allies. When Trump visited and spoke to hundreds of mostly maskless supporters in the blazing heat on the Wilmington International Airport tarmac, he made national news by urging North Carolinians to vote twice.
The essay below lines out a visual timeline of a historic year, highlighting the stories of restaurant workers, business owners, students, activists, and government leaders, all of whom grappling with the mounting challenges of a regional and global health crisis.
By the numbers
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