June 16, 2020  Mayor’s Remarks

Hello, this is Mayor Hatem,

I want to discuss with you today the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Southport is open for business and to tourists and has been so for one month. Stores are open, restaurants are open, take out and now dining in. What I am not seeing, is more adherence to social/physical distancing, and cloth facial covering, while in line waiting for a table at a restaurant, or walking down our sidewalks going in and out of shops. I am asking that, though it may not be “convenient”, that you  wear a cloth facial covering.  As we have discussed before, when you wear one, you are making a statement, I want to protect you and that I respect you, so please do the same for me. It is one of the ways to decrease the transmission of this highly contagious viral disease. Southport is under a state wide  Emergency Order and as Mayor, to avoid more drastic measures, I ask that you accept responsibility by wearing a mask when your are in our city. One of the measures that we will be taking is to promote better signage to encourage the wearing of face masks in our restaurants and local businesses. Similar to “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”. I will work with the City Manager, City Staff, the Board of Aldermen, and the Southport –Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, to continue the message of these important public health measures—social /physical distancing and mask/facial cloth covering, and frequent hand washing.  The three Ws: Wear, Wait, and Wash. To quote a British Scientific  Journal: “Wide spread use of facemasks could slow the spread of the virus to tolerable levels….Our analyses support the immediate and universal adoption of face masks by the public.”

The Pandemic is not over!!!  North Carolina recorded the highest number of new cases on Friday, June 12th, 1,768 new cases and reached a record high of hospitalizations, 823, on Saturday, June 13th, just two days ago. This past Thursday, was the fourth consecutive day in which hospitalizations reached a new daily peak. New cases continue to remain elevated, with 1,428 cases reported on Saturday and also from NCDHHS, 1,443 cases reported on Sunday. In Brunswick County, 222 cases and 3 deaths. One week ago there were 160 cases, so in 7 days, 62 more cases, a 38 percent increase. Globally, 7,848,888 cases and 431,418 deaths and in the United States over 2 million cases and over 115,000 deaths. In our state, 44,119 cases and 1,109 deaths and in terms of percentages, there are cases in all age groups, but with respect to mortality:  ages 0—24, 20 percent of the cases, 0 % deaths, ages 25—49, 45 percent of the cases, 4 % deaths, ages 50—64, 21 percent of the cases and 13% of deaths, and 65 and over, 14 percent of the cases but 82% of deaths.  Southport is an at risk population, a vulnerable population, by demographics and in underlying medical conditions. This is why public health mitigation is so important for our citizens and our community. Until we have a vaccine, until we achieve herd immunity, we must learn to continue to adapt to living with the pandemic and it may take a year or more before we achieve a more real “normalcy” in our daily lives. There are now 21 states that have seen increases in average daily new cases, North Carolina being one of them. Again, the pandemic is not over and there will be cycles and second and third waves of disease activity. I do not advocate returning to stay at home measures where our businesses were closed and restaurants were only serving take out orders. We must try to find a balance between protecting our population and preserving our economy.  It is up to us to be prepared to prevent disease spread and meet the challenge with testing, identification, isolation/quarantine, and contact tracing using public health measures to mitigate the transmission of this disease, and as your Mayor, as doctor and as a public health advocate, I am confident that by doing so, you will be among the heroes that help to save lives.