Coronavirus updates: What you need to know in Mecklenburg County

In Mecklenburg, 35% of COVID-19 patients are Black, according to new data released by the county.

Editor’s Note: QCity Metro will update this page as we receive news and information relating to Coronavirus in Mecklenburg County. Check for periodic updates.

Monday, March 23

County offers a detailed picture

Eighty. That’s the number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in Mecklenburg County as of noon Sunday — and 35% of those patients were Black.

Blacks make up only 31% of county residents, which means the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the Black community in a way that is slightly disproportionate. Whites, who make up 55% of Mecklenburg’s population, accounted for 44% of COVID-19 cases. The Latino population was at 3.8% of confirmed cases.

The new data, released by the county health department, represents the most complete snapshot yet of how the novel coronavirus has spread. Mecklenburg reported its first case of COVID-19, which is caused by the virus, on March 11.

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Other notable findings:

  • About half of the reported cases were adults ages 20 to 39; one case was a youth under 19.
  • Confirmed cases were divided equally between men and women.
  • Every zip code in Mecklenburg County reported at least one case of COVID-19.
COVID-19-cases-Meck-County-032220

Gibbie Harris, the county’s public health director, said previously that a spike in confirmed cases would be a natural result as more residents are tested, and the latest numbers seem to bear that out.

“I want to continue to encourage our community to follow the Public Health Orders that have been issued to help stop the spread of this disease in our community,” Harris said in a statement yesterday. “As the situation evolves, we will continue to provide more data and make decisions to protect the health of our residents.”

Here is a breakdown by age:

  • Under 20: 1.2%
  • 20-39: 44.8%
  • 40-59: 32.5%
  • 50+: 17.5%

Help for hotel/motel residents facing eviction

Also on Sunday, the county announced plans to offer temporary assistance to individuals and families who face eviction from hotels and motels during the coronavirus outbreak.

Residents who qualify would get financial assistance equal to one week’s rent. The county and local groups would then work with hotel/motel owners find a longer-term solution.

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“This is already a fragile population that is vulnerable to homelessness. It will only make it harder if they are forced out and have nowhere else to go,” Stacy Lowry, Mecklenburg County Community Support Services director, said in a statement.

They money would come from Mecklenburg County, United Way of Central Carolinas, and Crisis Assistance Ministry.


Thursday, March 19

JCSU will postpone graduation ceremonies

In a message sent to students late Wednesday, Johnson C. Smith University said that its 2020 graduation ceremonies would be put on hold because of coronavirus.

“We are looking into our options and will have information on how we will celebrate our Class of 2020 after the immediate threat has passed,” the statement read.

JCSU also reminded students that dormitories will close at noon on March 30. The university’s roughly 1,400 students currently are on spring break. Students also were given information about potential refunds for services such as housing, food and tuition.

“Higher education has not been faced with a situation like this previously,” the school said in the missive.


More testing; more cases confirmed

The number COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County reached 30 on Tuesday — twice the number just 24 hours earlier.

County health director Gibbie Harris said the jump in cases was a result of more testing.

“It’s what we expected,” she said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. “We are doing more testing, which is a good thing, so we are recognizing more numbers.”

Harris said getting test supplies continues to be a challenge, so the county is focusing on residents most at risk.

She also said that health officials are seeing “some panic in some communities” as more residents test positive.

“It’s important for people to understand; you may have someone in your apartment building, you may have someone at work, who tested positive. That does not mean you are a contact,” she said.

County Manager Dena Deorio said Mecklenburg residents are not on lockdown.

“Our parks are open, and we encourage people to get outside to exercise, but obviously to practice appropriate social distancing,” she said. “We do believe that it is safe for people to use our parks, and want people to know that.”


Community Spread of Coronavirus in North Carolina reported

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the state now has “community spread” of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday afternoon, Cooper said a person in Wilson County who tested positive for COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — had no known previous contact with anyone who had the virus.

The state’s declaration of the first “community spread” case of the virus was at odds with what Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said later in the day — that community spread already is occurring in Mecklenburg County.

Read more at wfae.org.

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