MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Eleven children and three staffers at a Charlotte childcare center have tested positive for coronavirus, according to North Carolina’s new dashboard tracking COVID-19 ‘clusters’ across the state.
Health officials reported the second coronavirus cluster, considered five or more cases, in Mecklenburg County at Heaven’s Angels Childcare Center in north Charlotte on Tuesday.
WBTV went by the center on Tuesday, but the doors were locked and no one appeared to be inside. A sign on the door stated the center was complying with COVID-19 regulations, but there is no information on whether the business is still open.
Wednesday, Heaven’s Angels Childcare appeared to be closed. No one answered the door or our phone calls.
In recent weeks, both Atrium Health and Novant Health have reported more children testing positive for COVID-19. Levine Children’s Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Amina Ahmed says that is in part because more children are being tested now, than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Again, the vast majority off kids will have mild disease—we know that nationally, globally, etc. But we are going to have some kids that have this MIS-C,” Dr. Ahmed said.
MIS-C is the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome that some children have presented with in addition to a positive COVID-19 case. In some cases, MIS-C can be serious.
Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order exempts children under the age of 11 from wearing masks but Atrium Health Pediatrician Dr. Debbie Chavez-Mitchell says if a child can wear one, they should.
“It is still recommended that if a child does not have any barrier to wearing a mask--- so if they don’t have a respiratory disorder--- then we do recommend they wear it if they cannot appropriately social distance,” Dr. Chavez-Mitchell said.
As the clusters in school and daycare settings continue to rise, the discussion continues over whether children should return to school in person come fall. One mother and nurse WBTV spoke with, said she’s concerned.
“My hopes is that school doesn’t open … I just don’t think we’re ready for it,” Janaria Nash said. “I’ve even been fiddle faddling back and forth with my husband if it does start, are we going to put him in homeschool because I just don’t feel safe for him.”
Coronavirus fears aside, Novant Health Pediatrics Symphony Park Pediatrician Dr. Kasey Scannell says with school out and many children not attending daycare, there could be educational and developmental delays due to their absence.
“I am finding it fascinating just about how this is affecting kids at every developmental stage there in because these stages are sometimes short and brief and you’re only going to be 9 months old for a bit,” Dr. Scannell said. “And so if you spend your entirety of 9 months surrounded by people wearing masks, or two year olds that aren’t hanging out with other two year olds, they aren’t developing social skills. How this is going to affect people long term I think is very fascinating, from a social-skills, language skill development standpoint.”
Last week, county officials reported five children and one staff member were among confirmed cases of COVID-19 at a childcare facility in east Charlotte.
Health officials said the first coronavirus “cluster” in the county was located at the Smart Kids #3 Childcare Center, off of E. W.T. Harris Boulevard near Grove Park Boulevard. The cluster is still listed as active on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services dashboard.
These reports have come within weeks of NCDHHS Secretery Mandy Cohen’s announcement detailing the state’s new reporting mechanism on these cases.
In a child care or school setting, a COVID-19 cluster is defined as a minimum of five laboratory-confirmed cases with illness onsets or initial positive results within a 14-day period, according to NCDHHS.
A cluster of cases was reported at Primrose School of Lake Norman. Two of those cases were children at the daycare. The other three are daycare employees.
The Primrose School of Lake Norman says the facility will be closed through July 13 while it is sanitized. Health leaders say they will continue to contact trace to identify anyone who came in contact with an infected person.