News & OpinionWeekly News Roundup

5 Things To Know: Masks Still Crucial as COVID-19 Numbers Decrease

...and four more stories from Aug. 9-15, 2020

COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County
Amanda Buss with Atrium Health’s in-house laboratory prepares a COVID-19 specimen for analysis. (Photo courtesy of Atrium Health)

Officials Call for Vigilance as COVID-19 Stats in Mecklenburg County Fall

As the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive in Mecklenburg County continues its downward trend, county officials are calling on residents not to slow efforts to curb the spread through safety measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and socially distancing from others. 

“With fall approaching and schools, colleges, and other activities starting, it may be easier to forget these basic steps that protect you and those around you,” read a joint statement from Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH), Atrium Health and Novant Health. “However, as we have also seen, COVID-19 is unforgiving, and letting down our guard can easily result in another spike of cases and deaths.”

According to the latest data released by MCPH on Friday, the total of COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County residents has reached 22,913 and resulted in 260 deaths. That’s an increase of 1,443 cases and 30 deaths since the same time last week. In-depth data regarding cases that had occurred through Aug. 12 showed the test-positivity rate was at 6.7%, after hovering around 10-11% for much of the last two months. The average number of people hospitalized on any given day due to COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County has also decreased over the past two weeks and is currently at 165. 

Mayor Addresses Homelessness in Charlotte as Property Cleared at Encampment

In light of the increasing attention being given to homelessness in Charlotte during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Vi Lyles published an open letter on Friday touting more than $24 million in funding the city has provided to help end and prevent homelessness in Charlotte since 2018 while recognizing that there is still much to be done. 

Lyles’ letter, which she published on Medium, came on the same day given as a deadline last week for around 100 people to leave the W.B. Moore Property where they had been living on West 12th Street between North Poplar and North Graham streets. The encampment was cleared by around 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with some people moving right across the street, and others spreading out to nearby properties. 

homelessness in Charlotte
Mayor Vi Lyles published an open letter addressing homelessness in Charlotte on Friday.

A recent FAQ post from Roof Above, which consists of the merged Urban Ministry Center and Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, stated that while tent encampments have been present in Charlotte for decades, the size and visibility of the one that has popped up in front of Roof Above’s Day Services Center is “unprecedented.” The post states that around 70% of the encampment is located on public land, with the rest on private land, where property owners do have the right to ask those living there to leave. 

In her letter, Lyles pointed out that the county is actually the lead agency for homeless services in the community and called on county officials to convene homeless-service agencies and “influencers” to find ways in which the two government bodies can work together to push back against homeless in Charlotte. “I am committed to continuing to partner with the County to find meaningful solutions for our homeless neighbors,” she wrote. 

RNC Road Closures Announced

The United States Secret Service (USSS) released information on Friday regarding what roads will be closed and when during the Republican National Convention (RNC), set to take place in Charlotte between Aug. 24-27. Though the event will be scaled down from the original plans, which would have brought an estimated 50,000 people to the city, President Donald Trump does plan to accept his party’s nomination here on Aug. 24, though he will hold an acceptance speech elsewhere on Aug. 27. 

According to the USSS, roads surrounding the Charlotte Convention Center will be closed beginning on Aug. 23 at 6 p.m. and ending on Aug. 25 at 6 a.m. The block of closed roads is bordered by South Tryon, East 3rd, South Caldwell and East Stonewall streets. Portions of East Martin Luther King Boulevard, South College, East Stonewall and South Brevard streets will be fully closed, while South Tryon and East Hill streets will be open to local traffic, including delegates, RNC staff and special guests, residents, employees, business patrons, food delivery services, ride shares and taxis. 

RNC road closures
The above RNC road closures will be in place between 6 p.m. on Aug. 23 and 6 a.m. on Aug. 25. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Secret Service)

Fintech Firm Announces $4 Million Expansion in Charlotte

Retirement Clearinghouse LLC, which provides retirement asset portability services to employees as they move their retirement savings from one employer plan to another,  announced Tuesday it is expanding its presence in Charlotte, adding 300 new employees and investing more than $4 million to expand their headquarters and corporate office in Charlotte.

The company will move into a new office in the Ayrsley development in the Steele Creek neighborhood of south Charlotte. Available roles will primarily be in information technology, call center, and client and stakeholder services with additional jobs available for human resources, finance, administrative, and management staff. The average salary for the new positions will exceed $72,000.

“The company’s services align well with the City of Charlotte’s initiatives and mission to improve economic mobility,” read a press release from the city on Tuesday. “The potential benefits of Retirement Clearinghouse’s auto portability solution are staggering and, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, could generate an additional $2 trillion in retirement savings, helping build wealth over the course of multiple generations.”

Man Charged After 2-Year-Old Shoots Self Accidentally 

No homicides occurred in Charlotte this week, leaving the 2020 total at 72. However, an accidental shooting in the Camp Greene neighborhood of west Charlotte left a toddler fighting for his life. According to CMPD, the 2-year-old and his family were visiting a family friend, 25-year-old Devonte Warren, when the child found and fired an unsecured firearm, inflicting a life-threatening gunshot wound. The 2-year-old was transported to the hospital by MEDIC and, at last report on Thursday, was in stable condition. Warren was later charged with failure to secure a firearm to protect a minor. 

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