‘Gut-wrenching’: New report shows how severely pandemic is hurting Meck County

‘It is gut-wrenching’: New report shows how severely COVID-19 affected Meck County

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — On Wednesday, Channel 9 learned just how severely Gov. Roy Cooper’s shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has affected Mecklenburg County.

In addition to the real concerns about people being sick, the new report also touched on things like job loss and food insecurity.

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Since March 13, 55% of Black households have had at least one person lose income.

80,000 households in Mecklenburg County lack access to a computer at home and at work.

In Mecklenburg County, the unemployment rate peaked in May at 13.6%. It has since declined to 8.6%.

About three in 10 people missed their housing payment in July in North Carolina, and 53% of Hispanic households have no or slight confidence that they will be able to pay their mortgage in October.

COVID-19 has exacerbated food access issues. Low-income families have less money to spend on food and seniors can no longer rely on subsidized meals in group settings.

Commissioners said they were very troubled by the report.

“It is heartbreaking to look at this data. People are doing bad. When you look at this data, it is gut-wrenching,” commissioner Mark Jerrell said.

“We can sit here and wait for the train to run us over or we can do something about it,” commissioner Trevor Fuller said.

It is not just what COVID-19 has done. Rather, it is what COVID-19 can still do that worries Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris. She said crowds at Labor Day gatherings concern her more than the ones on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day.

“With the holiday weekend just ending, we expect to see spikes in cases -- like we saw over the last two holiday weekends," Harris said. "The behavior we saw over this past holiday weekend is probably more significant than what we saw over the last two holiday weekends.”

Harris called out Harley Davidson of Matthews, saying it has been hosting large gatherings. Matthews police said no citations have been issued.

Harris wished enforcement would ramp up even more.

“If I had the wand, I would be much more aggressive than they are able to be under the law,” she said.

Commissioners are vowing to address all of the issues in the coming months.

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