Reopen Meck Protests Held in Uptown
Nearly 200 people gathered in Uptown on Friday afternoon to take part in Reopen Meck protests, calling on officials to relax restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis. The protesters rallied at First Baptist Church on South Davidson Street before taking to the streets in a rolling protest, while others walked into Uptown and congregated near the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Reopen NC movement that they’re basing out of Raleigh and appealing directly to the governor,” Reopen Meck founder Maya Pillai told Queen City Nerve, “but here in Mecklenburg County the officials that are issuing the stay-at-home order for the county is the board of county commissioners, and we need to appeal to them and let them know that all these small businesses that are being closed and all these employees that are losing their jobs, their voices need to be heard and we want to make sure that we are advocating for their needs.”
The county’s stay-at-home order is no longer in effect, as it expired on Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper announced a three-phase plan this week to loosen restrictions in North Carolina that state officials expect to begin rolling out next week.
Though Reopen Meck organizers said the rally was not meant to be political in the sense that it was in support of any politician, a large majority of those in attendance waved flags and signs in support of President Donald Trump or Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who’s currently running for governor.
Queen City Nerve also spoke with Pillai’s boyfriend, Billy Austin, who said that, although the insurance company that he co-owns hasn’t been affected by the order, he was there to support all the small businesses that have. He added that many of his clients have struggled to pay their premiums during the crisis.
“I’m here first and foremost to support a lot of the fellow small-business owners that are really ready to go back to work,” Austin said. “We all know that with COVID-19 being so contagious, it’s not anything to take lightly … but I know there’s a point where we can work smart.”
County Releases New COVID-19 Stats
As of the county’s latest update on Friday afternoon, there were 1,654 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Mecklenburg County residents, resulting in 50 deaths. Data from the first 1,587 cases reported as of April 29 showed that about three in four cases were in residents aged 20 to 59, and one in six cases required hospitalization. Two in every three of the reported cases have cleared criteria to be released from isolation. Of the 46 deaths reported as of April 29, 43 were people 60 years old or older, and the rest were between 50 and 59 years old, all of whom suffered from underlying chronic health issues.
Over the last week, an average of 70 individuals with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infections were hospitalized at acute-care facilities in Mecklenburg County at any given time, according to the county, though if one averages the last seven days listed in the data provided (see below) that number would be closer to 74. In that same week, around 9% of people who were tested were found to be positive for COVID-19. Both stats show slight decreases over a two-week span.
Shared Streets Program Opens the Roads
City officials this week announced the launch of a pilot program called Shared Streets that will shut down some Charlotte roads to vehicle traffic to support outdoor exercise; create a safer environment for people walking, wheelchair rolling, and biking; and promote physical distancing. Through-traffic will not be permitted on Shared Streets, though emergency vehicles and residents who live on those streets will still be able to access the roads by vehicle.
The city announced the launch of Phase 1 of Shared Streets, planned for May 9, as including McClintock Road from The Plaza to Morningside Drive in the Plaza Midwood and Commonwealth neighborhoods; Romany Road from Euclid Avenue to Kenilworth Avenue in Dilworth; and Jameston Drive, Irby Drive, Westfield Road from Freedom Park to Brandywine Road in Myers Park. The roads all abut parks — Veterans Park, Latta Park and Freedom Park, respectively.
City officials are still identifying low-speed, non-thoroughfare streets at least a half-mile long for potential Phase 2 locations. A list of potential streets that will be added (see below) includes Thomas Avenue from Central Avenue to Belvedere Avenue; Andrill Trail, Summit Avenue and Martin Street between Oaklawn Avenue and 5th Street; 35th Street from North Davidson Street to The Plaza; 8th Street from Louise Avenue to Laurel Avenue; and 5th Street between Osborne Avenue and 7th Street.
Carolina Hurricanes Expected to Cut Ties with Charlotte Checkers
According to reporting from the News & Observer in Raleigh, the Carolina Hurricanes are expected to announce soon that they will be partner with a new American Hockey League affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, effectively ending their relationship with the Charlotte Checkers, with whom they’ve been affiliated for 10 years. A deal will reportedly not be finalized until the AHL season is officially cancelled, which may happen during a conference call scheduled for the league on May 8.
A statement posted to the team’s website on Wednesday stated: “While we are aware that the Carolina Hurricanes are nearing an affiliation agreement with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, the Hurricanes have had little dialogue with us regarding this matter. In an era when NHL teams are placing great value on affiliations with closer proximity between the two clubs, we understand the confusion that such a move would cause. We will explore other options for our affiliation and look forward to continuing in the American Hockey League when play resumes.”
Two Homicides Bring Yearly Total to 32
Two deaths that occurred this week as the result of violence have brought the number of murders in Charlotte this year to 32. Javion Sanders, 17, was shot in a home on Catalina Avenue in the Tryon Hills neighborhood of north Charlotte on Friday, April 24, and died from his injuries on Monday. A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and charged with Sanders’ murder. Police have not released the identity of a man who was shot and killed in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Audrey Street in the Shamrock area of east Charlotte on Sunday morning.