Meck COVID cases could remain high until mid-February

Meck COVID cases could remain high until mid-February
Dr. Samuel Dartey-Hayford receives the first shot from a delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to Novant Health in Charlotte. Pharmacy resident Kayla Askey administered the vaccine at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center on Thursday, December 17, 2020. (Source: David T. Foster III | Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg have skyrocketed in recent weeks — and could remain high through mid-February, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Thursday.

Harris asked residents to abide by the state’s new advisory directive, which asks North Carolinians to stay home unless they are going to work, school, to exercise, to attend to health care needs or to get groceries.

More than 2,450 Mecklenburg County residents have been vaccinated by the county public health department, county medical director Meg Sullivan told reporters Thursday afternoon. And the county expects to give out another 400 doses today, she said.

Thursday was the third news briefing this week for Harris and Sullivan, the county’s medical director, as elderly residents try to navigate the complicated distribution process while vaccine doses remain extremely limited.

The Mecklenburg clinic at Bojangles Coliseum, which opened for to the public for the first time Wednesday, offers 325 vaccine appointments per day, county spokeswoman Rebecca Carter told the Observer.

The clinic is by appointment only. Anyone age 75 and up can schedule an appointment at the county clinic by calling 980-314-9400 and selecting Option 3, or online at mecknc.gov/COVID-19 or https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/83g1hcpv/.

The roll-out of Phase 1b — starting with Group 1, as two other subcategories wait to become eligible for immunizations — comes as coronavirus conditions rapidly deteriorate in the Charlotte region.

WORSENING COVID TRENDS

Mecklenburg added 962 new coronavirus infections Thursday, bringing the cumulative case tally since March to 68,155, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported. Local officials say 606 residents have died of coronavirus-related complications, including 40 in January so far.

The county’s positivity rate soared to an all-time high of 15.6% in the past week, officials said Tuesday.

Hospitalizations are also shattering records. The number of coronavirus patients seeking intensive-level care surpassed 500 on Sunday, the latest day public health data was available. And each of the last seven days reported set a new record

Health experts caution that it will take weeks, based on the incubation period of the virus, to see the full impact of holiday gatherings.

But locally, hospital leaders and officials have declined to publicly disclose when exactly Mecklenburg may hit its next coronavirus peak — and just how many ventilators, beds and healthcare workers might be needed to handle the surge.

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