10 people have died from coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, cases surge past 860

10 people have died from coronavirus in Mecklenburg County, cases surge past 860
There are more coronavirus cases in Mecklenburg than any county in the state. (Source: wbtv)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County has reported 10 coronavirus-related deaths, as cases in the county climbed to 869 Thursday afternoon.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced the first Mecklenburg County death on Sunday, March 29. Harris announced the county’s tenth death during a press conference Wednesday.

The county’s case count was updated to 861 Thursday morning on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website.

Harris announced cases in every zip code in the county but added “it looks like the curve is beginning to flatten.”

The total number of cases in North Carolina was at 3,650 as of Thursday morning, with 65 reported deaths.

Health officials predict that by early or mid May, healthcare systems may become overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases. Doctors and other medical professionals interested in helping during this pandemic are being urged to come out of retirement.

Mecklenburg County health officials confirmed outbreaks at two nursing home facilities and investigating a possible third.

An “outbreak," according to Harris, is considered as “two or more individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Officials have not named the facilities that have confirmed outbreaks or confirmed how many patients tested positive at those facilities.

Forty-eight percent of positive tests are in Mecklenburg County’s African-American community, said Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director.

“We have got to look at ways to increase access to both testing and care as well as getting the message out,” Harris said.“ This is critical if we’re going to serve this community. This is not about each of us individually, it’s about how we’re working in our communities.”

On April 3, officials announced four Mecklenburg County first responders tested positive for the coronavirus, while 41 other first responders are in quarantine.

These first responders include two officers with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, one ambulance worker with Mecklenburg EMS and one firefighter with Charlotte Fire Department.

Officials say 14 CMPD employees are quarantined, 13 CFD employees are quarantined and 14 Mecklenburg EMS workers are quarantined.

“The County and City have been prepared for this possibility as our first responders have a difficult job that requires them to place their lives on the line to protect the public. We owe them and their family a debt of gratitude and we wish them a speedy recovery” Harris said.

Officials say public safety agencies have placed several preventive measures to keep frontline responders safe.

Atrium and Novant Health systems have asked Mecklenburg County and its partners to build a mass care field hospital to treat as many as 3,000 additional COVID-19 patients during the anticipated surge of the virus. The hospital would be set up on the UNC Charlotte campus.

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