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Mecklenburg County health officials warn of increasing COVID-19 cases, Delta variant

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County health officials had troubling news to give in an update on Friday afternoon. COVID-19 cases are increasing in the community.

When it comes to the things the county tracks, like hospitalizations, percent positive and overall cases, all three of those measures have increased in the last few weeks.

They say it’s part to do with the Delta variant, which they officially confirmed was found in Mecklenburg County. Another problem is that just 50 percent of the county is populated, not enough to be in herd immunity.

Mecklenburg County Health Director, Gibbie Harris, says the overwhelming majority of the new cases are people who are not fully vaccinated. Both Novant and Atrium said that was the case with hospitalizations as well.

The county is urging people to get vaccinated, emphasizing the vaccine if effective and safe. She says it’s time to do it now since we know the Delta variant is in the community and much more transmissible.

The county says they’ve seen an increase in cases among kids, especially teenagers. 77% of cases are being reported in people under the age of 39.

Harris says although there have been some instances of people getting the virus while fully vaccinated, she says their symptoms are typically non-existent.

“All of our data is pointing to the fact that if you are unvaccinated, you are more likely to be infected and much more likely to have severe illness and complications and need for hospitalization and in some cases death result of not being vaccinated,” said Harris.

With more cases, many community members are worried that we could go back to mandated masks and restrictions. Harris says we’re not quite there yet. And that we’d have to have a dramatic shift in case numbers before we see new restrictions, but she says things can change quickly.

What she is worried about is having two populations - those who are vaccinated and those who are not.

“Were finding too that with our younger populations, the more convenient, the easier the simple is to get it, the more likely they will be to get it. But still with our younger populations is the issue ‘well its not going to be a big deal for them, so why bother,” she said.

This is the full data from Mecklenburg County that was sent to media this morning:

Highlights about the 115,387 COVID-19 cases reported in Mecklenburg County as of July 14, 2021 include:

· During the past week, an average of 92 laboratory confirmed infections per day were reported compared to the 14-day average of 74 confirmed infections. This represents an increase over the last 14 days. These data are based on Mecklenburg resident cases reported to MCPH.

· During the past week, an average of 49 individuals with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized at acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County. This represents an increase trend over the last 14 days. These data are based on daily census counts from acute care facilities in Mecklenburg County reporting to MCPH.

· During the past week, an average of 5.2 percent of individuals who were tested in Mecklenburg County were positive for COVID-19. This represents an increase trend over the last 14 days. These data only include ELRs for molecular (PCR) tests submitted to NC DHHS for laboratories electronically submitting negative and positive COVID-19 results.

· Nine hundred-eighty-seven deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among reported cases.

o Almost all deaths were among older adults (≥ 60 years), 15 deaths occurred in adults ages 20 to 39 and 127 deaths were adults ages 40 to 59.

o All deaths, except twenty-six, occurred among adults with underlying chronic illnesses.

o Almost half were non-Hispanic Whites. The disparity in COVID-19 deaths among non-Hispanic Whites is related to differences in race/ethnicity of residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities actively experiencing an outbreak.

o Nearly 40 percent of deaths were connected to active outbreaks at long-term care (LTC) facilities.

o Among deaths not connected to outbreaks at long-term care facilities, nearly 2 in 3 were non-White, with 40 percent being non-Hispanic Black. As previously noted, these disparities are largely driven by higher rates of underlying chronic conditions that increase risk of severe complications due to COVID-19 infection among these communities.

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