Mayors have signed onto Mecklenburg County’s state of emergency declaration as 14 people have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.
The declaration unlocks state and federal funding to offset costs in fighting the pandemic.
Public Health Director Gibbie Harris reported March 16 that the county had seven cases and 259 people tested and waiting on results. The number of cases doubled by March 18.
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Harris said March 16 the third and fourth cases of COVID-19 were tied to travel, but the next three cases are under investigation.
“We have just gotten the information and are starting our investigations to understand where their potential exposure came from, where they are and how we are moving forward with those,” Harris said.
Testing has been conducted through the health department, health systems and private physician offices.
“At this point in time, our capability outpaces our capacity,” Harris said regarding the supply of tests. “But that continues to improve every day. I also want to emphasize that we have been able to test anyone who needed to be tested in this county.”
Health officials aren’t testing just anyone. Patients are screened based on symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath), whether they’ve come in contact with someone with COVID-19 or have traveled to an area of concern within 21 days.
Harris stressed that people should call ahead before visiting physician offices and hospitals to ensure they are not putting themselves or others at risk. She encouraged people to use 911 for emergencies, not to report a fever or other mild symptoms.
Harris also signed an order restricting mass gatherings with more than 50 people.
“This could change at any point in time,” Harris said. “This is an incredibly fluid situation and we’re hoping the community will work with us cooperatively to prevent spread of this infection in our community.”
Deputy Chief Jeff Estes, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said the mass gathering order will be enforced in an educational way.
“We have gotten good responses so far from many of our venues that hold these type of events,” Estes said. “We expect generally voluntary compliance across the board for this order.”
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