Southport State Emergency
March 26, 2020
On Friday evening, March 20th, , as Mayor of the City of Southport, I declared a state of emergency. I did so, to
inform you the citizens, that your city government was aware of the need for continued action with respect to the
rapidly evolving COVID-19 Pandemic and that you would be aware of the measures that we were initiating. As
noted in the declaration, we have restricted access to public facilities, limited the size of public gatherings, and
discontinued temporary rentals and lodging. These are measures that emphasize public health principles of
mitigation in decreasing exposure, promoting social distancing, which will interfere with the spread of this highly
contagious respiratory infection. COVID-19 is a novel virus—no one has immunity—and even though 80 percent
of those who contract the disease may have mild to moderate symptoms and recover, those that do become ill
may require intensive care services and the virus in particular can have devastating consequences to those age 65
and older, or those who have underlying/preexisting medical conditions—lung disease such as COPD and asthma,
diabetes, obesity, coronary artery disease, those who are immunocompromised from cancer chemotherapy, or
have autoimmune disorders. As I have said before, Southport is an at risk demographic and proven public health
measures are the key to slow the rate of spread of this disease. We have a small hospital with limited resources,
therefore by preventing the spread of disease, as was done by Dr. Dosher at the U.S. Quarantine Station off our
shore in the Cape Fear River, is crucial to decreasing the number of cases which will prevent our hospital from
being overwhelmed, and is the model we will embrace to keep our community safe.
What I am asking each of you to do today, is to continue what you have been doing, social distancing, good hand
washing, staying informed, calling before you go to a hospital or clinic if you have concerns about your health and
COVID-19, but in addition, I want to emphasize the need to adopt our own principle of “Shelter in Place”. I ask that
you remember what Dorothy said in “The Wizard of Oz” –“There’s no place like home.” I say to you today, as your
Mayor, as your Doctor, as your Public Health Advocate, “SOUTHPORT STAY HOME”, other than for the common
sense essential needs, trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, your medical clinic, or restaurant take out. I ask that
you not gather in groups of any form and always, wherever you go, practice social distancing.
I will close with the last stanza from a poem by Robert Frost:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This pandemic is not over. For now, we go forward with reflection and prayer, we reassure each other, we rest but
also exercise our mind and body, and we have a resolve that we will succeed by embracing public health principles
and by doing so, we will not be on the road less traveled by. We will also be successful by remembering the words
of Dorothy—“There’s no place like home”. Remind yourself who you are staying home for, and who you are
protecting, with “Southport Stay Home.” Again, by staying home, you will be the heroes that save lives.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay well.
Joseph P. Hatem MD, MPH