WILMINGTON — As the city addresses a rising economic and health crisis caused by the spread of novel coronavirus cases across the U.S. and North Carolina, every aspect of daily life has been affected.
Port City Daily has photographed and interviewed more than 20 residents to better understand how they are approaching the crisis, from the closure of restaurants and bars to the depletion of essential items at grocery stores.
The interviews also show a wide range of viewpoints, from one young woman who believes the fear spreading across the city is due to media outlets over-hyping the pandemic, to restaurant and bar owners who believe in the necessity of a governor-mandated shutdown of dine-in areas and barrooms, while bracing for its economic impact.
On Monday, New Hanover County Chairwoman Julia Olson-Boseman confirmed there had been 28 tests taken in the county but zero confirmed cases of Covid-19. But just two days later, she announced the county’s first presumptive positive case.
“I’m not scared of the virus,” Brandi Day said while celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day at The Husk bar in downtown Wilmington, ten minutes before the governor’s 5 p.m. deadline approached. “I’m scared of the way people are acting; more of the way the media is attracting it, I guess. It’s a virus — it’s not even as bad as the flu — but everyone else is buying everything, making everything go out of proportion. I mean, it’s ridiculous.”
It’s worth noting that, according to a research letter on the disease mortality rate published by the CDC, “a broad range of 0.25%–3.0% probably should be considered.” The World Health Organization (WHO) put the rate at around 3.4% earlier this month, and the latest data put that rate around 1.4%. For comparison, the low end of this estimate is higher than the mortality rate for some other viral infections — the seasonal flu is about .1%; H1N1 ‘Swine flu’ (between April 2009 and August 2010) was .02% — while the high end is not as deadly as SARS, which killed 9.6% of infected patients.
Meanwhile, Savorez restaurant owner Sam Cahoon decided to lay off nearly his entire staff so they could reap unemployment benefits that were expanded by the federal and state government this week. He kept two employees — one who is his brother and sous-chef — to operate the restaurant as it fulfills orders for pick-up and delivery.
“We’re in the fortunate position that we’re a small restaurant with small overhead,” Cahoon said Tuesday evening. “I don’t see me personally profiting anytime soon, but we’ll make enough to where we’re not just bleeding dry … We’re at a point where every little bit counts. The business revenue will go towards generating revenue for running the business, paying our bills, and paying the staff we do have on hand.”
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