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The Voice of the Black Community


Mecklenburg County's stay at home order extended to April 29
Edict matches statewide COVID-19 guidance
Published Wednesday, April 8, 2020 6:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris reported 839 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county, including nine deaths as of Wednesday. African Americans, who make up a third of Mecklenburg's population, account for 48% of the infected.

Mecklenburg County residents have to stay home a little longer.

County Manager Dena Diorio announced today an extension of the stay-at-home order from April 16 to April 29 to coincide with the statewide edict.

“We don’t plan on any other revisions to the order, except to extend the time frame,” Diorio said.

County Health Director Gibbie Harris reported 839 cases of COVID-19 in the county, including nine deaths to date, as well as two nursing home facilities with confirmed outbreaks. Outbreaks are defined as two or more individuals when it comes to this virus. Another nursing home is under investigation.

As of April 8, 48% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg were African Americans, who represent roughly a third of the county’s population.

“A majority of those are in the 60-and-older range of folks with underlying health conditions,” Harris said. “We’ve also seen that over 50 percent of our deaths have been among African Americans in our community.”

Harris stated the way the virus is impacting the black community should not come as a shock.

“When we look at our demographics and our data in this community, this is the population that is hardest hit by all of the chronic diseases in our community,” Harris said. “When we look at other infections like HIV, this is where we see it in our community. This is the population where we are seeing the biggest challenges around social determinants—jobs, housing, education. So why should it be surprising that COVID-19 is treating this population any differently. This is just symptomatic of the problems we have in our system for this particular population in our community. So, we’ve got to look at way to increase access to both testing and care, as well as getting the message out in ways this community can receive.”

Harris said in the initial stages of the virus the county did not have enough data to determine what was happening with regards to demographics.

“Even though we recognized this last week, we’re just starting to see the recognition of this situation in other parts of the country,” Harris said. “I’m not sure we could have seen it earlier than this. If you think about it we should have suspected that this was something that should happen based on the fact that we know what the issues are in the African American community from a health perspective, but we were moving fast on trying to deal with the virus. Until the numbers showed up it was hard to see that this was what was going on.”

Harris also said the county intends to utilize radio stations and “print material” through churches to reach the black community regarding COVID-19.

Rockwell AME Zion Church Pastor Jordan Boyd advocated that churches provide a virtual service for Easter Sunday but admonished what he described as physically “gathering in any form.”

 “To my colleagues in the faith community, I know we are all facing the difficulty of how we stay connected with our faith communities,” Boyd said. “I know it’s been trying, but I want to ask that we continue to encourage our people and be forthright ourselves, and lead in such a way that protects those who are in this case the most vulnerable and the least likely to have the kind of access to the healthcare that is needed.”

Harris noted that healthcare systems are projected to be overwhelmed in early to mid-May based on current projections. The county intends to proceed with a plan that would utilize 30 influencers to spread the stay-at-home message on social media. She also suggested advertising with specific radio programs to spread the word.

“Over 70% of our cases in individuals between the ages of 20-59,” Harris said. “This is our younger population. This is our more mobile population. These are the individuals who we may be seeing out in the community more. We’ve discovered that because our numbers are so high in this area that we’ve got to look at how we get the message to that community.”

The county also put out a call for retired or former healthcare workers to return to service if they are able.

“We need doctors,” Diorio said. “We need nurses. We need medical assistants, EMTs, paramedics. We really have a lot of opportunity for people to help us out. You can do that at www.terms.emncnc.org. That is a state emergency management website. You can register. You can put all of your credentials in there, and the state will vet your credentials, vet your licensing, and then approve you to work in our system. We need everybody to be part of our solution.” 

County parks and greenways will be closed to vehicular traffic, but pedestrians and bicyclists can continue to use the spaces. Diorio described the decision as a design to limit gatherings of people to promote social distancing. The Sheriff’s Office and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will enforce the measure. The rule does not apply to town parks within the county, as they are not closing their parking lots.

“We’ve been getting a lot of emails and a lot of feedback about this, and I want to make clear that these facilities are not closed to people,” Diorio said. “People can still enjoy them. People should use them, but we want to make sure that we limit as many people as we possibly can in a single location, which is why we’re closing those facilities to vehicular traffic.”

The county adopted two small business loan funds at the April 7 commissioners meeting. They will be available to small businesses beginning April 13.

“The first is a $5 million loan fund for businesses that employ less than 50 full-time employees,” Diorio said. “There is a minimum loan of $5,000, and a maximum loan of $35,000. These are three percent interest loans with 10 years payback, and the first year is principal and interest only. The second is a micro business stabilization fund with a $1 million loan fund, and is for organizations or businesses that have less than five people. These loans are up to $10,000, and have a zero percent interest rate, and that’s a three-year maturity.”




I haven't see the extension of the County SaH order anywhere else, including the Char/Meck site. In your statement, "County Manager Dena Diorio announced today an extension of the stay-at-home order from April 16 to April 29 to coincide with the statewide edict", did you mean county residents would be under the SaH order until April 29th, could it actually be the STATE'S order, not the COUNTY'S?
Posted on April 11, 2020

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