Meck County COVID-19 trends stable but surrounding counties seeing spike in cases

Spike in COVID-19 cases surrounding Mecklenburg County making impact, health director says

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County’s COVID-19 trends are in decent shape, Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris told county commissioners on Tuesday.

While cases are slightly trending up in Mecklenburg County, the percent-positive rate is sitting at 4.4%, according to the last data released by the county.

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The problem is, some of Mecklenburg County’s surrounding counties are seeing spikes in COVID-19 cases, which is making an impact, Harris said.

According to Harris, Cleveland and Lincoln counties are seeing a 200% increase in cases over the last 30 days. Gaston County has tripled its number of hospitalizations over the last 30 days.

Harris said hospitals in the western part of the state are overwhelmed and, as a result, they are now diverting patients to Charlotte and Winston-Salem.

“We have talked about the need to continue to be vigilant and to do the things that will help us here,” Harris said. “But recognizing the fact that we are seeing these increases all around us, we need to anticipate what may happen in Mecklenburg County.”

At one point, hospitals in Charlotte considered having a field site to handle the influx of patients. In the spring, the hospital systems reported they did not think one was necessary, and that has not changed, according to Harris.

Some commissioners are frustrated that adverse actions of others may result in a direct hit on Mecklenburg County. Commissioner Trevor Fuller is especially alarmed at the lack of mask-wearing and wondered if it will take another “100,000 or 200,000 deaths for people to get the point.”

“We accept all kinds of restrictions on our lives. But for the mask to be something you oppose when it helps save people’s lives, it is incredibly reckless and irresponsible,” Fuller said.

Harris worries that cases will spike in Mecklenburg County over the next couple of weeks as more people spend time inside because of cooler temperatures. But Harris said hospital capacity in Charlotte is much better now compared to July.

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