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5 Things To Know: Officials Make Halloween Recommendations Amid Rising COVID-19 Numbers

…and four more stories from Oct 25-31, 2020

Halloween COVID-19
Celebrating Halloween during COVID-19. (AdobeStock)

Officials Make Halloween Recommendations Amid Rising COVID-19 Numbers

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris held a press conference on Friday urging people not to participate in traditional trick-or-treating as part of Halloween festivities tonight due to COVID-19, though she suggested that those who do so practice social distancing and try to limit interaction with humans as much as possible.

On Friday, the county released a flyer that lays out Dos and Don’ts for Halloween during COVID-19. It recommends that people prepare individually wrapped bags of candy for trick-or-treaters and leave them outside their home rather than hand out candy or force children to reach into a common bowl. Harris recommended that children and parents avoid crowded streets while trick-or-treating. 

Harris urged older folks to refrain from hosting or attending Halloween parties. “This is a time when people like to come together in gatherings and have parties. This is not a good time to do that,” Harris said. “That is where we’re going to see more exposure … It’s those mass gatherings that we are most worried about, and we’re hoping that people will comply and try to avoid those types of situations.” 

Halloween COVID-19
A look at test-positivity rates in Mecklenburg County. (Graph courtesy of Mecklenburg County Public Health.)

According to the most recent data released by MCPH on Friday morning, there had been 34,019 positive cases of COVID-19 reported among Mecklenburg County residents and 390 deaths resulting from the coronavirus to that point. That’s an increase of 1,609 cases and nine deaths since the same time last week. In-depth data for cases that occurred through Wednesday showed, on average, around 121 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 at any given day during the past week with an average 6.2% test-positivity rate — both stats trending up compared to the previous 14 days.


New Eastland Plans No Longer Include Charlotte FC Headquarters

It’s unclear why the newly updated plans for the former Eastland Mall site, presented at a Charlotte City Council meeting on Monday, no longer include the headquarters for new MLS team Charlotte FC as originally planned. Discussion at Monday’s meeting points to COVID-19, with Tepper Sports & Entertainment vice president and COO Mark Hart stating that, even relative to the pandemic’s effects on all sectors, it’s “had a great toll on professional sports.” 

A rendering of the newly updated Eastland sites. (Courtesy of Crosland Southeast)

It’s also had a great toll on the city’s hospitality industry, funds from which were supposed to cover the $110 million in incentives promised to Tepper Sports for bringing MLS to Charlotte. That number was brought down to $35 million as part of the new plan presented on Monday, which city council will vote on Nov. 9. 

While the 29-acre headquarters and practice fields will no longer be on the site, Tepper Sports still plans to build Charlotte FC’s development academy there. That will take up around 15,000 square feet of space and employ about 20-25 full-time workers and 30-40 part-timers. It’s unclear what development will now anchor the 69-acre site.


City Launches Round 3 of Small Business Grants

The City of Charlotte and Charlotte Center City Partners on Monday launched the online application for the third round of the Small Business Innovation Fund as part of the city’s Open for Business initiative. The Small Business Innovation Fund will distribute $1.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to small businesses within the city limits of Charlotte to spur innovation and adaptation in an economy devastated by COVID-19. Business owners can apply through Nov. 9 at noon as long as they fit the following eligibility requirements: 

  • The business has an existing physical location inside Charlotte city limits.
  • The business headquarters are located within the Charlotte region.
  • The business had 50 employees (full- and part-time) or fewer as of March 1, 2020.
  • The business experienced adverse impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The business is willing to participate in interviews to document and share lessons learned.

According to a release on Monday, priority will be given to small businesses that create unique experiences for neighborhoods — including but not limited to storefront businesses, distinctive products or services, and/or exceptional community engagement — as well as innovations and adaptations with potential to replicate and scale or create multi-sector collaborations.


Police Search for Sexual Assault Suspect Following Panthers Game

CMPD held a press conference on Friday to address sexual assault allegations from a woman who says she was attacked while leaving Bank of America Stadium following Sunday’s Carolina Panthers game. The woman told police she was walking on West Morehead Street near the railroad bridge outside of the stadium when she was approached by a Black man wearing a light top who then sexually assaulted her in a wooded area near Botanica. 

At Friday’s press conference, CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano stressed how rare it is for a stranger to be accosted and assaulted in such a way, and asked that anyone with information call CrimeStoppers at 704-334-1600. At a separate press conference on Monday, CMPD announced an increase in rewards for those who provide information that leads to arrest and prosecution in violent crime cases. The reward for this case and other violent crimes is now $2,000. 


Yearly Homicide Total Reaches 100

Two murders this week brought the total number of homicides in Charlotte during 2020 to 100, a milestone that puts the city well on pace to see a deadlier year than 2019, when there were 108 killings

Shortly after 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to a shooting call on Pegram Street in the Belmont neighborhood of north Charlotte and found 30-year-old Robert Lee Darby Jr. suffering from a gunshot wound. MEDIC transported Darby to CMC Main, where he later died.

Robert Lee Darby Jr.

Just before 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, police responded to a home on Princess Street in north Charlotte and found 41-year-old Abel Harris dead of a gunshot wound inside. No arrests have been made yet in either case. 


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