Mecklenburg County health leaders: COVID-19 cases still a big concern at large gatherings

Mecklenburg County health leaders: COVID-19 cases still a big concern at large gatherings
Mecklenburg County health leaders: COVID-19 cases still a big concern at large gatherings (Source: WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County health leaders have been made aware of many large gatherings since August where someone has tested positive within 14 days of the event.

Public health director Gibbie Harris says that since August, at least one person in Mecklenburg County has tested positive for the virus at 97 family gatherings, 24 wedding events, 14 funerals and 23 religious events.

In at least one case, Harris said, a large number of people were exposed to the virus who had been around a person who tested positive who thought they had a simple cold.

“We have had at least case where a large number of people were exposed to an individual who was around them for four days who thought he had a cold, did not get tested, and continued to participate in those events, and then tested positive,” Harris said.

In Mecklenburg County, nearly 30,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus, and there have been 366 deaths.

Harris said the county is working to provide testing in place for those who have attended those large gatherings.

One example is with the Ole Mecklenburg Brewery, where at least two people tested positive for the virus following its Mecktoberfest, which attracted thousands.

On Saturday, at the Charlotte brewery, there will be a free COVID-19 testing event from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. Harris encourages those who attended Mecktoberfest to get tested.

“They have been very cooperative and are working with us on a testing event at their site on Saturday morning,” Harris said.

Harris said ways to make sure you limit the spread of COVID-19 at large gatherings is to have a guest list and know who is attending. And, if you don’t feel safe about attending those gatherings, Harris urges those not to go.

“If you go to a bar and don’t feel safe because you don’t see people social distancing or not seeing masking, then don’t stay,” Harris said.

In-person early voting at election sites begin on Thursday.

While Harris is encouraging the public to vote, she is pushing for them to do so safely.

She said protective equipment will be given to poll workers and masks will be provided to voters who don’t have a mask.

Harris also encourages social distancing as much as possible.

“We want to do everything to encourage people to get out and vote, whether that’s absentee or early voting,” Harris said. “We have been doing a lot of work with Board of Elections. We know we have significant amount of protect equipment available to them and people who come to vote without mask.”

Within the next couple of weeks, families will take their children trick-or-treating for Halloween.

Harris advises that families avoid large crowds and not to put their hands into a bowl to reach for candy.

Also, she says that costumes aren’t a substitute for wearing a face covering.

“We don’t want to take holiday away from community,” Harris said. “We know it is important to our children and our community.”

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