WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - District Attorney Ben David said he has tested positive for COVID-19 following a meeting last week with a group from Charlotte here on a “site visit.”
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johhny Jennings, Judge Elizabeth Trosch and Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather flew to Wilmington last Wednesday for a meeting hosted by David on youth violence and childhood trauma.
According to sources with WECT’s sister station, WBTV, it was the next day when Judge Trosch showed symptoms. She tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 4. CMPD Chief Jennings has also tested positive, while Merriweather is quarantining.
David got a COVID-19 test after he was notified by Trosch that she had tested positive.
“I learned definitely that I tested positive and I, of course, had a difficult day not only notifying my office but my friends and taking whatever precautions now we need to do to make sure that people around us are safe,” David said.
David says the group, which included a total of six people from Charlotte, all wore masks the entire time with the exception of when they broke for lunch. And even then he says they socially distanced in a conference room.
“If I let my guard down at all, and I think this is a good lesson, I was driving a car with someone in it who I believe tested positive and I think that’s the most likely rate of transmission now. But we can’t know. We’re not doctors,” he said.
David says the group drove around looking at different sites including the youth enrichment zone, seeing places like the Blue Ribbon Commission and the Harrelson Center.
David says even in the car, they wore masks.
David says he is in the process of contacting anyone who might have been exposed. It is likely the virus originated from someone in the Charlotte group, but he says he has no regret hosting the visit.
“I’m not going to blame anyone. I’m not going to finger point. I think it’s important that we continue to do the hard work that needs to happen for our children. Despite our best efforts, you can still be exposed,” he said.
He added, “Charlotte was here because they’ve had over 100 murders this year. We’ve had over 20 just in the city of Wilmington which is a terrible year. We’re sharing some best practices. We’re looking at gang violence. We’re looking at childhood trauma. We’re bringing in some of the state experts. If I didn’t think bringing them in was protecting this community and saving lives, I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m, of course, not happy that anyone was exposed to this virus as a result of this meeting, including me, but having said that, we have been exposed to this potential everyday we do this job and we’re going to continue.”
David has no symptoms of the coronavirus and says he feels well. He hopes his personal experience with a positive test result will be a lesson to the community that this virus can impact anyone.
“This has been a real eye opener for me because you know this is what COVID-19 looks like. When I heard I was positive, it was obviously a surprise and I guess its a lesson for all of us that you can look and feel great and still be carrying around this virus.”