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5 Things To Know: CMS Mask Mandate To Continue Into New School Year

...and four more stories from July 25-31, 2021

CMS mask mandate
The CMS Board of Ed voted 8-1 to implement a mask mandate for all students and employees when classes resume on Aug. 25. (AdobeStock)

CMS Board of Ed Votes to Keep School Mask Mandate in Place

In an 8-1 vote on Friday morning, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Board of Education voted to implement a mask mandate for all employees and students in CMS schools. 

Friday’s meeting was held at 9 a.m., and a handful of folks attended to stand against the CMS mask mandate, sometimes yelling over the officials who were there to present to the board. Many of those in attendance were with Moms for Liberty, a conservative group that has been fighting mask mandates in schools across the country. 

The board heard from Superintendent Earnest Winston and Mecklenburg County Public Health medical director Dr. Meg Sullivan, among others, before their vote on Friday. 

Republican board member Sean Strain, who would later end up casting the only vote against the CMS mask mandate, claimed he was against the it because he does not believe it aims to protect children, who are at low risk of serious illness as a result of COVID-19.

Sullivan replied that, “We have incredibly clear data that masks work,” and pointed out that, even if kids don’t usually get as sick as adults, they will still need to quarantine if they contract COVID-19, and will not have access to virtual learning as they did last year. 

Later in the conversation, Strain called it “a good result” if more children contract the virus and don’t get sick because they will develop antibodies, to cheers and applause from the Moms for Liberty members in the crowd. Dr. Sullivan replied that this “natural immunity” strategy would only lead to more death. 

Before the vote, Board Chair Elyse Dashew said she would listen to the medical experts as the best way to keep kids safe and in school, stating that “safety is sacred and seat time sacred.” 

County Reports on Breakthrough COVID-19 Stats

For the first time since vaccinations began in the winter, on Friday Mecklenburg County Public Health (MCPH) reported numbers on breakthrough COVID-19 cases in the county, which refers to cases in people who have been fully vaccinated. According to MCPH, there have been 376 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated residents. Health officials and local hospital administrators continue to emphasize, however, that a vast majority of those who become sick enough to need hospitalization are unvaccinated. The 376 breakthrough cases make up .00066% of the 573,347 Mecklenburg County residents who have been fully vaccinated. 

CMS mask mandate
Test-positivity rates in Mecklenburg County are on the rise. (Graph courtesy of MCPH)

According to the most recent data from MCPH released Friday, there had been 118,983 total cases of COVID-19 among county residents and 998 deaths up to that point. That is an increase of 2,152 cases and four deaths since the same time last week. More in-depth data for cases that had occurred up to Wednesday showed all metrics on the rise, with an average of 175 laboratory confirmed infections reported per day over the past week compared to 134 confirmed infections per day in the previous two weeks.

There were also an average of 70 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 on any given day over the past week, and an average test-positivity rate of 8.6%, both of which are also increasing trends. 

Police Search for Hit-and-Run Suspect

CMPD is still searching for the driver of a car that struck a woman who was lying in the roadway after being struck by another car in University City on Monday morning. Police say that around 2:30 a.m. that morning, they responded to a reports of a woman who had been struck by a car and found 24-year-old Alexis Wilkins lying in the roadway on East Mallard Creek Road between North Tryon Street and Alexander Glen Drive. Wilkins was transported to the hospital, where she later died. 

Alexis Wilkins

Officers learned that Wilkins was walking in the street when she was struck by a man driving a Mercedes, who immediately stopped and called 911. While he was waiting for police to arrive, the man witnessed another car, now believed to be a 2000’s model Hyundai Tiburon, also run over Wilkins and then continue driving. Neither speed nor impairment was found to be a factor in the original incident involving the Mercedes, but the Tiburon is believed to have been speeding based on eyewitness accounts.

Investigators believe the Tiburon suffered front-end damage during the collision. They ask that anyone with information call Detective Buckley at 704-432-2169 extension 6. The public can also leave information anonymously by contacting Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. 

CMS mask mandate
CMPD is looking for a car similar to this one that may have suffered front-end damage.

Wilkins’ family has launched a GoFundMe to help with costs. “She loved her family so much that living 11 hours away did not stop her from building everlasting memories,” wrote Erin Williams. “Alexis deserved so much more as she just approached 24 years of her life on July 6th. She deserved to be saved, to be happy, to buy a house like she always wanted, and to finish school. She deserved to live.” 

Hornets Draft James Bouknight to High Praise

New Charlotte Hornets guard James Bouknight is calling the Charlotte Hornets “must-see TV” after Thursday’s night’s NBA draft, which was deemed successful for the hometown squad by just about all accounts. With their first pick at the 11th spot, the Hornets picked up UConn’s James Bouknight, thought to be one of the most dynamic scoring guards in the country in 2020-21, and a surprise to GM Mitch Kupchak that he was available outside of the first 10 picks. 

The team also worked out a trade with the New York Knicks in order to select Kai Jones, a “late blooming forward with an impressive combination of size and athleticism who has made major strides as a shooter since picking up the game at age 15,” according to 

In the second round, the Hornets picked up JT Thor (PF/C-Auburn) and Scottie Lewis (G-Florida), both of whom have potential to add solid depth to the Hornets bench.  

“We are going to be one of the most exciting teams in the league and I say that confidently,” Bouknight said during media day at Spectrum Center on Friday. “We are going to be a team that’s must-see TV as everybody likes to say. We are going to be fun to watch.”

Two Earlier Killings Ruled as ‘Justified Homicides’

With one murder occurring in Charlotte this week, and two earlier killings having been ruled justified homicides — Calvin Hilton in July and Milton Howard in March — there have now been 59 illegal killings in Charlotte this year. 


Just before 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, police responded to a shooting call on Deep Rock Circle near the intersection of Nations Ford and East Arrowood roads and found 29-year-old Eric “Dunk” Howell suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to the hospital, where he later died. Howell is a former college basketball player who was loved by many in the community. 

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