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5 Things To Know: First Mass Vaccination Event Takes Place at Speedway

...and four more stories from Jan. 17-23

mass vaccination
A line forms around the racing oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway as people await the opportunity to receive their COVID-19 vaccination during a mass vaccination event held at the speedway. (Photo by Kevin McCarthy/Atrium Health)

First Mass Vaccination Event Takes Place at Charlotte Motor Speedway

A public-private partnership between the state, county and multiple Charlotte-based private companies launched the first of several mass vaccination events on Friday morning, with 16,000 vaccinations set to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the weekend. Atrium Health workers are administering the vaccinations to people 65 years of age or older at the race track. Bank of America Stadium is planning to host a similar mass vaccination event next weekend with the goal of administering between 20,000 and 30,000 doses.

Honeywell, Atrium Health, Tepper Sports & Entertainment, and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced their public-private initiative in partnership with the state on Jan. 14. The goal of the partnership is to distribute 1 million doses of the vaccine across North Carolina by July 4.

mass vaccination
An Atrium Health worker applies a bandage to Doug Bassinger’s arm following his COVID-19 vaccination during Tuesday’s mass vaccination event. (Photo by Kevin McCarthy/Atrium Health)

With support from Gov. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and local governments, these organizations will work together to administer vaccinations, provide logistics and operations support, and offer venues for an efficient and safe initiative, according to a Friday release.

“The ability to launch the state’s largest vaccination event so rapidly is a testament to the power of partnership,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “Our goal, simply stated, is to get as many shots in arms as quickly as we can, to save the lives of North Carolinians. And we thank Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen for their support of our partnership … as we take a critical step forward in defeating this virus and returning life to some semblance of normal.”

The mass vaccination clinics will run from 7 a.m.-7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow. Appointments are required to receive a vaccination, and vaccinations will not be available without confirmation of a spot. This is to help manage the supply of the vaccine, given its ultra-cold storage requirements and limited shelf life after thawing, according to the release. 

“The Speedway will literally become victory lane for thousands of North Carolinians this weekend,” said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer, Speedway Motorsports, laying on the puns heavy. “This vaccination clinic is a crucial pit stop in the race to beat the pandemic.”

Mecklenburg County COVID Numbers in Slight Decline 

At a press conference on Friday, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris expressed a cautious optimism — very cautious — after seeing slight declines in key COVID-19 data points including hospitalizations. Harris emphasized, however, that there’s no way of knowing whether the county has already seen its COVID-19 peak, as past declines have been followed by upticks. 

The Charlotte Observer reported that countywide ICU occupancy rates have seen a slight decline from 90% at the end of December to 88.7% earlier this month, despite the fact that four out of the county’s seven hospitals saw increases in occupancy. On Thursday, Atrium Health announced it was sending its newest mobile hospital to Atrium Health Pineville to help with emergency department services. The state-of-the-art emergency department on wheels will be used to help treat less critical patients, providing added bed space to help with rising occupancy rates there.

(Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to the latest data from MCPH, released Friday morning, there had been 79,674 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 721 deaths due to the coronavirus at that time. That’s an increase of 4,789 cases and 46 deaths since the same time last week. According to more in-depth data for cases that had occurred through the week up to Wednesday, the average test-positivity rate was at 12.4%, while the average number of people hospitalized on any given day was at 511, both decreasing trends.

Rezoning Would Open Opportunity for New Panthers Stadium

Charlotte Pipe & Foundry Company (CPFC) elicited talk around town this week when the company filed for a rezoning at the site of their main facilities, which will soon be moved to Oakboro. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper had previously mentioned the 55-acre site as a potential location for a new stadium where the Panthers and Charlotte Football Club, which Tepper also owns, could play. 

The rezoning petition asks that the site be made an uptown mixed-use district, a designation that would allow for a stadium to be built there. The site, located across I-277 from the current Bank of America Stadium and bordered by South Clarkson Street, West Summit Avenue and South Mint Street, is the largest available property in the Uptown area. 

At a virtual community meeting regarding the rezoning on Thursday night, attorney Collin Brown acknowledged the buzz around the property being the potential site for a new stadium, but said nothing had yet “come to fruition.” CPFC is reportedly expected to complete its move to Oakboro as early as third quarter 2023. 

Motel Owners Make Shameful Display Targeting Tenants

Genevieve Curtis of WSOC reported this week on a southwest Charlotte motel’s dastardly practice of shaming tenants who have fallen behind on rent during the pandemic. Management at City Inn on Nations Ford Road put up a display in the lobby of the motel depicting the drivers’ licenses and photos of all tenants who had fallen behind on payments in a time when an eviction moratorium has made it illegal to kick such tenants to the streets. The display also listed how much each resident owed, showing totals ranging from $2,000 to more than $7,000. 

One tenant told Curtis they are worried about identity theft, as management not only has copies of tenants’ drivers’ licenses but Social Security cards as well. The rent at the motel is reportedly $280 a week. The motel’s publicly listed phone number is 704-522-0364 if you are looking to rent a room or want to get in touch with them for any other reason. 

Police Search for Suspect in 7-Year-Old’s Shooting

Police are still searching for a suspect in a shooting that occurred at The Edge at NoDa apartment complex off North Tryon Street on Tuesday afternoon that resulted in a young boy being shot. The 7-year-old victim was in an apartment on Hilo Drive when he was struck by a bullet from the shooting, which occurred in the parking lot. The boy was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Multiple apartments and vehicles in the parking lot were struck in what appears to be a drive-by shooting. No arrests have yet been made in the case. 

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