City leaders expect cancellations to continue as COVID-19 spreads

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Downtown Wilmington. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There are no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 here in the Cape Rear region, but contingency plans are being made as the virus spreads.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says they expect COVID-19 to get worse before it gets better.

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“We do feel it’ll probably get worse before it gets better,” Saffo said.

Health officials says a large number of people who get COVID-19 will be okay, but city leaders want everyone to keep taking those extra precautions.

“And I think at this point, because we’re uncertain, we have to be concerned,” City Councilman Kevin Spears said.

As the COVID-19 continues to spread, so do the concerns. People in the community are wondering what’s to come in the next few weeks.

“I do think there will be more events that will be canceled in the future,” Saffo said. “Absolutely. I feel that we would rather be safe than sorry, and obviously the best thing to do right now is to stay away from large events.”

If more meetings do canceled, Saffo says we could see a shift to teleconferencing.

With a number of events already canceled in the area, Spears says they’ve been hearing a lot of concerns from the community.

“The biggest concern is the Azalea Festival,” Spears said.

Saffo says they’ve been in touch with a lot of event organizers to talk about contingency plans in case they need to reschedule events.

“Obviously there are a lot of things that have been booked,” Saffo said. “A lot of people have made arrangements to come to Wilmington in the last couple of months, and if there’s and opportunity to rearrange some of those schedules. Put them off until this thing kind of decipitates.”

Saffo and Spears say they are working with the county and the state to figure out what comes next.

“I think, as people, we have to take the best measures for us to ensure our own safety, and I think that’s the number one thing we can do,” Spears said.

In the meantime, city leaders are encouraging everyone to take safety precautions of their own.

“If you feel that you have some symptoms of the flu, try to stay away from other folks,” Saffo said. “Please wash your hands. everything you touch has the possibility of having this virus on there.”

You can find updates and guidelines from New Hanover County here.