The spread of COVID-19, an illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has officially reached Mecklenburg County.

Two unidentified individuals have tested presumptively positive and awaiting confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, county health officials said Thursday.

One of the individuals lives in Mecklenburg County, while the other was tested here but isn’t a Mecklenburg County resident. Both are currently in isolation at their homes.

“[Mecklenburg County] Public Health is working closely with the state health department, community partners, first responders, healthcare providers and others to quickly identify and respond to cases that might occur,” said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris.

Local health department staff is identifying close contacts of the individuals with COVID-19 and monitoring symptoms to contain the spread.

The state health department recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from the disease should stay home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

Those at high risk include people:

  • Over age 65, or
  • with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, or
  • with weakened immune systems.

During a news conference on Thursday to announce recommendations, Gov. Roy Cooper urged people to cancel, postpone or modify gatherings expected to draw over 100 people. He also encouraged employers to allow workers to work from home if possible. The state has reported 15 positive cases with more expected.

“North Carolina has more tough decisions ahead, and we will be ready to make them,” Cooper said. “We know that if we can slow the spread of this virus now, then fewer people will be infected or become seriously ill.”

As notice of cancellations and closures started rolling in, questions were raised about the impact on residents, especially those whose livelihoods heavily depend on affected establishments.

The NBA’s announcement that the season was suspended until further notice following Wednesday’s games led to questions about if and when arena staff would be compensated.

Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller acknowledged that fact in a tweet saying, “…many of our hard working hourly employees and support staff depend on wages from our home games. We’re going to make sure that they’re taken care of! Even if I have to pay out of pocket to help out.”

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles shared that Charlotte Water will not disconnect water for non-payment of any account type, effective immediately and until further notice.

Because COVID-19 is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, County residents should take the same measures that healthcare providers recommend annually to prevent the spread of the flu and other viruses, including washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and covering coughs and sneezes.

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Katrina covers Charlotte's Black business scene for QCity Metro. She's a Miami transplant, pescatarian and lover of the arts. She earned a public relations degree from the University of Florida. Got a...