Covid-19 spreading at ‘exponential rate,’ county health officials say

To slow the spread, Mecklenburg Public Health issued a three-week "directive" with specific actions for residents.
coronavirus

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Covid-19 in Mecklenburg County is spreading at an “exponential rate,” says Public Health officials.

How bad is it? From September 2020 to mid-January 2021, confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the county have increased from about 100 per day to a current average of 900 per day. Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus.

“The exponential growth in the number of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and related deaths require immediate action on the part of every member of our community,” Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Tuesday in a statement.

To slow the spread, her office issued a three-week “directive” that instructed county residents to take several “immediate actions.

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Among them:

  • Leave home only for essential activities.
  • Remain at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Avoid gathering with individuals you don’t live with.
  • Avoid nonessential travel.
  • Quarantine and get tested if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
  • Wear a cloth face covering, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.

The directive was set to expire on Feb. 2. During a press briefing Wednesday, Harris said her office will analyze the county’s Covid-19 data before deciding whether to extend the directive.

The directive, she said, is a “strong recommendation” but doesn’t carry the weight of an executive order or mandate.

Harris said she hoped that businesses in the county would consider taking steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19, such as reducing the number of people allowed inside their doors.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday to reconsider the district’s plan to return to in-person instruction, and some private schools in the county canceled classes after the directive was issued.

“It has been interesting to see the level of angst and concern about the directive,” Harris said. “Actually, I’m glad to see that, because we wanted it to be taken seriously. We wanted people to understand the urgency of the directive.”

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Harris said she hoped the three-week “calming period in our community” would allow health officials time to get the pandemic under control.

“We do not want to look like L.A.,” she said, a reference to the California city where the pandemic has stretched the health-care system to a near breaking point.

Read the county’s full announcement concerning the directive.

This article was updated to include information from the county’s Wednesday press briefing.

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