CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The "stay at home’ order issued by Mecklenburg County leaders to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the community took effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. The order will run through April 16.
The proclamation allows residents to go to the grocery store, go to restaurants for takeout, and go outside to “be in nature for exercise," among several other things.
Under the proclamation, residents will also be able to pick up medication, visit a healthcare facility, support a friend or family member, help someone get necessary supplies, walk pets, and seek veterinary care.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will manage the order.
“CMPD is continuing to enforce the order through education, dialogue, and seeking voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses,” police said. “If voluntary cooperation is not achieved CMPD is equipped to enforce these restrictions through citations or misdemeanor charges.”
“Stay home (stay unexposed and do not expose others),” the county posted. Those seeking essential services are asked to stay 6-feet away from others.
The order urges Mecklenburg County residents not to:
- Go to work unless you are providing essential services as defined by this Order
- Visit friends and family if there is no urgent need
- Maintain less than 6 feet of distance from others when you go out
- Visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or other residential care facility, except for limited exceptions as provided on the facility websites
- Travel except for essential travel and activities
“This order directs all Mecklenburg County residents to shelter at home and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs,” the county posted.
READ THE ORDER: Mecklenburg County Stay at Home Order
Mecklenburg County was reporting more than 170 positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as of 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Essential services as defined by the Mecklenburg County Order are defined as the following:
- Healthcare,public health, law enforcement, public safety and first responders
- Food, beverages, and agriculture
- Stores that sell groceries and medicine
- Organizations that provide charitable and social
- Water and wastewater
- Transportation and logistics
- Public works
- Communication and information technology
- Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation
- Financial institutions
- Hardware and supply stores
- Critical trades
- Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services
- Laundry services
- Restaurants for consumption off-premises
- Home-based care and services
- Residential facilities and shelters
- Professional services
- Childcare centers
- Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain
- Hotels and motels
- Funeral services
- Other community-based government operations and essential functions including human services
- Other community-based human service operations
- Critical manufacturing
- Hazardous materials
Those with questions about the at home order can call a county hotline for more information: 704-353-1926.
In a follow-up press conference on Tuesday, Mecklenburg County leaders answered more questions about what residents are allowed to do and more information on “essential” services while the “stay at home” order is in place.
- Uber and Lyft rideshare services are considered essential, which means they’re still allowed to operate and be used by citizens.
- According to Law Enforcement representatives, citizens would not need to show proof or carry any type of documents while they’re out (to show proof that they fall into a category to be out).
- People can still go boating and use golf courses during the order.
- ABC stores will stay open (they’re under state jurisdiction).
Officials with ABC Carolinas says “it does appear that construction and other ABC related industries will remain essential during this time.”
Charlotte-Meckleburg Police Department also tweeted out their response to the order.
In North Carolina, more than 500 people have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday evening.
In the wake of the announcement of two COVID-19 related deaths in neighboring Cabarrus County, Mecklenburg County Public Health urged residents to comply with the Stay at Home Order.
“It is critically important that our residents understand that all efforts should be made to comply with this order” said Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director.
The new cases come a week after county officials confirmed community spread.
A community spread case means that a person tested positive, but health officials are unable to track how they may have been infected. The person would not have had contact with a known case or have traveled recently.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper confirmed community spread in Wilson County as the first case of community spread in the state. Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris says she knows of at least two positive COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County that were community spread. Harris says she was not sure why there was a disconnect between local numbers and the state.
“I’m not sure,” Harris said. “We have community spread in our community,” Harris said.
Last week, on Wednesday, Mecklenburg County reported only 14 cases of coronavirus. Harris says they expected the number to rise, in part because they are testing more people.
Harris also said that a “shelter-in-place” order was not in effect in Mecklenburg County. County Manager Dena Diorio says the Governor or the Office of Emergency in Mecklenburg County could make the call for a shelter-in-place order. Diorio says they would coordinate with the state and local hospital officials before making any decisions on shelter-in-place or any similar order.
Seven daycare sites have also been opened for the children of first responders. Details about this will be posted to the county’s COVID-19 web page here.
During Thursday afternoon’s press conference, Mecklenburg County officials said the state was well above the 100 positive case mark.
Mecklenburg County declared a state of emergency Sunday after additional residents tested positive for COVID-19.
“Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) considers novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a very serious public health threat and has declared a State of Emergency,” the county posted online. “The declaration allows the County access to state and federal funds to offset the costs of fighting the pandemic.”
Harris said 259 people were tested after attending a big conference.
“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."
Over the weekend, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper ordered public K-12 schools in the state to close for at least two weeks.
On Monday, Cooper extended the closure to May 15.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools began“grab and go” breakfast and lunch meals for students on 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.
“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 patients are being quarantined at home or self-isolating, and their family members are being isolated as well, according to Harris.
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.