Mecklenburg County announces 3 new positive coronavirus cases, bringing total to 7

Updated: Mar. 16, 2020 at 1:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County has 3 additional coronavirus cases as of Monday morning, bringing the total to 7, county health officials announced in a press conference.

Mecklenburg County declared a state of emergency Sunday after four residents tested positive for COVID-19.

With the additional cases, it would bring the total to thirty-five people testing positive across the state, an increase from 15 reported just on Friday.

“We’ve had three additional cases announced this morning through the state – that brings us to a total of 7,” Gibbie Harris said Monday. Harris says 259 people are under investigation. Those being investigated either have flu or viral-type illnesses, unexplained respiratory illness, have traveled, or have potentially been in contact with a COVID-19 infected person Harris said. The 259 people have been tested and health officials are awaiting the results of those people.

“We are not testing just anyone,” Harris said Monday. “We have just gotten the information and are starting our investigations to understand where their potential exposure came from, where they are and how we’re moving forward with those.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston says the district will begin “grab and go” breakfast and lunch meals for students starting Tuesday. Students will need to be present and cannot consume the meals on school grounds, Winston says. A list of pickup locations will be provided.

CMS joins other districts offering free food to students who are impacted by the mandated school closures.

Winston says the district is working with community partners to get technology access to students for remote learning opportunities.

“All school district employees can expect to be compensated over the next two weeks – or the duration of the executive order," Winston said of school employees.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg deputy chief says the banning of mass gatherings will be enforced on a educational platform by officers with voluntary compliance.

Restaurants and gyms are not included in the mass gatherings of 50 people or less, as Harris says she’s worried about limiting the community’s access to food.

“If you can limit the number of people you’re bringing together - and think about who you’re inviting,” Harris said. “Limit your exposure as much as you can.”

The new patients from over the weekend are being quarantined at home, and their family members are being isolated as well, according to Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris. Those two cases were related to external travel, with one traveling from Europe and the other traveling for a conference.

Harris says she does not have additional information on the latest three cases.

Harris says the county is now able to test those “who really need it.”

“Would we like to test more? Potentially,” Harris said.

The emergency declaration allows Mecklenburg County to access state and federal funding to offset costs of fighting the pandemic.

To help coordinate the community’s response, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management has activated the Emergency Operations Center. It will remain open until the threat from the pandemic subsides. Those who may have COVID-19 symptoms—fever, cough and shortness of breath—are reminded to call first before seeking treatment from a healthcare provider, urgent care or emergency room.

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