Phase One of Reopening Plan Takes Effect
Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 138 — also known as Phase 1 in the plan to reopen North Carolina — took effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, eliminating the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses and allowing most retail stores to open at 50% capacity.
While Phase One does increase the number of reasons people are allowed to leave their homes, Mecklenburg County officials on Thursday emphasized that the statewide stay-at-home order is still in effect.
Other features of Phase One include that state parks and trails are encouraged to reopen, people are allowed to gather outside with up to 10 people, child-care facilities are open to working families, and people are allowed to leave their homes for non-essential goods and services.
Businesses that remain closed under Phase One include restaurants and bars (for dine-in services); personal care and grooming businesses including barber shops, beauty, nail, and tanning salons, and tattoo parlors; entertainment facilities including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and performance venues; and fitness facilities such as health clubs and gyms. Shopping malls are allowed to reopen, though congregation points such as food courts will remain closed.
The executive order will expire on May 22, at which time Cooper’s office will announce whether Phase Two will be brought into effect. For more on the three phases of his plan, including what factors are needed before implementing each phase, check out our article here.
New COVID-19 data shows irregularities in spread among Hispanics
According to the latest data release from the county on Friday morning, there had been 1,983 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Mecklenburg County as of that point, and 60 deaths due to the virus. The county also released more in-depth stats about cases occurring through May 6, showing irregularities in how the virus was spreading in Hispanic communities.
According to Mecklenburg County Public Health, nearly a quarter of reported cases were Hispanic, with more than 90% of those cases happening among residents under 60 years old, compared to other race groups where only 60-65% are under 60 years. Some factors influencing this trend include targeted testing occurring in neighborhoods with lower access to care, some of which have larger Hispanic populations; higher proportions of Hispanics working in essential jobs that make social distancing difficult; and pre-existing disparities in other social and economic determinants of health such as poverty.
According to the May 6 stats, during the last week, an average of 57 people were hospitalized due to confirmed COVID cases on any given day, which shows a decrease from the previous two weeks. Also, 7.5% of people tested were found to be positive, a slight decrease from the previous two weeks. For the latest data, maps and charts, visit the county’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard.
Atrium Health Implements Testing, Assistance for Employers
As Phase One rolled out this week, Atrium Health announced the launch of an initiative aimed at helping employers reopen their businesses, as well as antibody testing across the Charlotte region. A press release stated that Atrium Health is helping organizations reopen as safely as possible by providing critical assistance with COVID-19 planning, screening and testing, with antibody testing to determine if a person has previously had COVID-19 set to be carried out at several hundred Atrium-owned practices.
Through the COVID-Safe for Employers initiative, Atrium will assist businesses as they seek ways to safely reopen the workplace with screening for employees and subsequent testing as needed. Atrium will also supply educational materials and treatments, as well as guidance on policies for employees who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while at work.
“As we begin to enter this next phase of addressing the realities of coronavirus, Atrium Health is partnering with businesses across our region to provide expert clinical guidance and advice to restore a sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Scott Rissmiller, executive vice president and chief physician executive at Atrium Health. “Atrium Health is bringing innovative treatments, implementing extensive safety measures and expanding our care to patients across this region to provide health, hope, and healing — for all.”
Companies and organizations interested in learning more about Atrium Health’s innovative COVID-Safe for Employers initiative can email the return-to-work team at COVID19rtw@atriumhealth.org.
Atrium will also soon begin offering antibody testing to its patients across the region. As a first step, Atrium will begin pilot testing its employees next week. Results from this internal employee testing pilot will be used to deploy high-quality and reliable testing available for patients at hundreds of Atrium Health primary care, women’s care, Levine Children’s and urgent care practices in the weeks ahead, according to the release. Existing or new patients wanting antibody testing can call an Atrium Health practice for more information, including upcoming availability and scheduling.
Cross Charlotte Trail Segment Opens in South Charlotte
The city of Charlotte has completed a new trail connecting the McMullen/McAlpine/Four Mile Creek Greenway system to the Cross Charlotte Trail and Little Sugar Creek Greenway. The .75-mile-long trail, called the South Charlotte Connector, runs parallel to I-485 between McMullen Creek and Park Road near the Pineville city limit. It features a boardwalk system and bridge over McMullen Creek near Charlotte Water’s McAlpine Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant. The trail expands access to the Cross Charlotte Trail by approximately six miles.
“The project was finished months ahead of schedule and we are thrilled to offer this new amenity for the community to use, especially during this challenging time,” stated Imad Fakhreddin, senior engineering project manager, in a press release.
Another segment of the connector, which extends south from Park Road to the President James K. Polk State Historic Site, is currently in design and will be built by Mecklenburg County. It will connect to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway down to the South Carolina state line.
For more info on the South Charlotte Connector and the Cross Charlotte Trail, visit the city’s website.
Man Killed in East Charlotte
Police responded to an assault call on East Sugar Creek Road near the Family Dollar in east Charlotte just after 6:30 a.m. on Sunday and found 41-year-old Brandi Anderson suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police announced on Tuesday that 43-year-old Carl Southerland has been arrested and charged with Anderson’s murder, the 33rd to occur in Charlotte this year.