Here’s today’s update:

  • First, for those of you in the coastal portion of this Congressional district, the National Weather Service has issued a rip current statement for coastal Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties through this evening.  Swimmers are encouraged to use extra caution, to swim near a lifeguard, and if caught in a rip current, relax and float – don’t swim against the current.  Be careful out there!

  • This past Saturday, North Carolina reported the state’s highest one-day total of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 2,462 cases reported.  Currently, 1,040 individuals are hospitalized statewide, down from a high of 1,093 on Saturday.  North Carolina has completed more than 1.22 million COVID-19 tests, and so far has recorded 87,528 confirmed cases.  You can view the latest statistics at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 dashboard here.

  • Here’s a snapshot of the outbreak in the counties that make up the 7th District:
    • Bladen County: 446 cases, 5 deaths
    • Brunswick County: 802 cases, 8 deaths
    • Columbus County: 623 cases, 39 deaths
    • Duplin County: 1,672 cases, 33 deaths
    • Johnston County: 2,091 cases, 35 deaths
    • New Hanover County: 1,484 cases, 7 deaths
    • Pender County: 382 cases, 2 deaths
    • Sampson County: 1,198 cases, 7 deaths
    • Wayne County: 2,006 cases, 30 deaths

  • A number of local school systems are seeking input from parents as they make decisions about plans for when school returns in the fall.  Here are a few links where parents can weigh in to add their voice to the discussion:
    • Wayne County: Wayne County Public Schools has a page with surveys for parents and staff to offer their input on what the fall semester will look like in Wayne County.  View them here.
    • Pender County: Pender County Schools is seeking feedback on how the 2020-2021 school year should operate when it begins in August.  Surveys will be linked here this week that will give the community a chance to provide feedback as Pender County restarts school.
    • New Hanover County: New Hanover County Schools is conducting surveys and gathering feedback to guide instruction in accordance with the state-mandated school reopening plan.
    • Sampson County: Sampson County Schools has posted surveys available here.
    • Bladen County: Bladen County Schools has posted its Feedback on Returning to School survey here.
    • Brunswick County: The leadership at Brunswick County Schools is seeking feedback on possible reopening options here.
    • Whiteville: Whiteville City Schools has its re-entry and remote instruction plans available for review here, with links for offering feedback.
    • Links for similar opportunities for feedback about reopening schools from other parts of the 7thDistrict will be included in this newsletter as our team becomes aware of them.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a report that advocates opening schools while providing age-based safety guidance.  It states, “the APP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school…Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits, as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.  This, in turn, places children and adolescents at considerable risk of morbidity and, in some cases, mortality.”  

  • Whether and how schools re-open is a decision for the Governor and local officials, but I believe that with a little creativity it can be done in ways that are safe for teachers, parents and the students.  The academic, psychological, and sociological impacts of not reopening would likely be significantly negative.  On this topic, don’t miss this op-ed by former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on how schools can be safely reopened this fall.  Kids are far less likely to contract the virus than adults.  In the U.S., kids are 22% of the population but just 1.7% of COVID-19 cases.

For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting the Salvation Army of Cape Fear and Bank of America, which partnered to provide the non-profit with a $250,000 grant to support the creation of the Build Hope Campus.  The Salvation Army’s facility will help people across our region experiencing homelessness, poverty and other challenges.  This Campus, when completed, be a fine example of how private philanthropy can do so much to help our neighbors in need.

As always, stay tuned to and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak.