By Frances Weller | March 23, 2020 at 11:03 PM EDT – Updated March 24 at 6:44 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) -As the number of coronavirus cases in the Cape Fear region grows, the chief physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center believes we’re only seeing a glimpse of what’s ahead.
“We’re just into the mathematical spread of epidemiology, so every day we’re going to get a few cases and then all of a sudden we’re going to get a big bump and you’ll see it begin to double every day and that’s how it’s going to go for a period of time,” says Dr. Phil Brown, Chief Physician Executive at NHRMC.
Dr. Brown doesn’t believe everyone is taking the pandemic seriously, as evidenced by the number of people who are still out and mingling in large groups. He believes the only way to get ahead of the virus locally is to have a mandatory shelter in place.
“I think it could be really, really be helpful in controlling the spread of this disease,” he says. “Without a doubt, we’re at the point that distancing, isolation in a physical sense–spacing–is so critically important and we’re also in a catch-up phase because we were a little late understanding the importance of that and even though we started talking about it, it really didn’t sink in into the public I don’t think until recently and more so now and there’s still a ways to go.”
Brown says he was hopeful that the community would voluntarily shelter in place but says now is the time to move forward with a mandate and agrees with the North Carolina Healthcare Association’s request to Governor Cooper.
“I really can’t say that there’s anything wrong with that recommendation from a medical standpoint. It is absolutely the sound thing to do to keep people physically distant from one another and if it works in that way, it will save lives in our community and across the state.”
Brown believes the pandemic could go on until June or even later unless everyone in the Cape Fear region takes the calls for what he calls physical distancing seriously.
“It’s not time to panic but it is absolutely time to take decisive action to make sure that each of us do our very best not to become a host for this which is really dangerous and if we all act responsibly and work together, we’ll get through it and I truly believe that from right here in Wilmington, N.C. we can be a statewide and a national leader in how we handle this pandemic.”
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