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Health
Coronavirus news and updates about the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Reported COVID-19 Cases In NC Pass 7,000 For First Time As Mecklenburg Officials Warn Against Holiday Gatherings

North Carolina on Friday reported 7,540 new daily COVID-19 cases, the first time the state passed the 7,000 mark and the fourth new daily case record in seven days. Hospitalizations also hit a new record high: 2,514 people were in the hospital with COVID-19 on Friday, according to the state health department.

In Mecklenburg County, numbers released on Friday showed an average of 480 newly reported COVID-19 infections per day over seven days, compared to the 14-day average of 433. Hospitalizations were also increasing, according to county data.

“We have huge numbers right now in our community,” Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

These worsening numbers coincide with the holiday season, with Hanukkah underway and Christmas two weeks away. Harris urged residents to modify their celebrations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. She suggested virtual holiday parties and curbside or online gift shopping and cautioned against traveling or gathering with anyone outside of one’s household.

“At times I feel like the Grinch, or maybe Scrooge,” Harris said. “But unfortunately this is one year in our life. It’s one year where we’re asking people to do things differently so that they will have more years in the future.”

Sidney Fletcher, the chief clinical officer for Novant Health’s Charlotte market, echoed these recommendations. He said the hospital system is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 patients. He said that Novant has the capacity to manage a possible increase over the next two to four weeks but that it still needs the public’s help to keep beds staffed and available.

“We don’t want to see that number continue to climb and we don’t want to see post-holiday numbers at Christmas like we saw from Thanksgiving,” Fletcher said.

A group of researchers in the Triangle area issued a report Tuesday saying that if no action is taken, North Carolina could run out of intensive care unit beds in 4 ½ weeks.

In response to recent coronavirus trends, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a modified stay-at-home order this week that takes effect Friday at 5 p.m. It requires people in the state to stay home and businesses to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said the department will enforce the order but won’t set up roadblocks or checkpoints for people who are out past the curfew.

“We won’t be doing proactive, randomized stops of people at night during the times,” Estes said. “However, if we come across people who are out in the course of our normal duties, officers can ask questions in regards to the order.”

In an op-ed released on Friday, Cooper called the state’s COVID-19 numbers “dire” and urged North Carolinians “to take this virus seriously.”

“A month ago, daily case counts about 3,000 were troubling,” Cooper wrote. “Recently, we’ve had several days with more than 6,000 new daily cases. Hospitals and health care workers are feeling the strain.