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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Mecklenburg Health Director: Stay Home Except For Essential Activities For Next 3 Weeks

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris
Claire Donnelly

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris issued a directive Tuesday encouraging all county residents to stay home except for essential activities for the next three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The directive comes as North Carolina remains under a statewide 10 p.m. curfew and mandatory face mask requirement, and appears to mimic a secretarial directive issued last week by state Health Secretary Mandy Cohen.

It's unclear whether recommendations under either directive are enforceable by law or have any penalties.

Harris’ directive has one significant difference: It specifically mentions schools when it says to “utilize full-virtual options for work, school and other activity where in-person activity is not required.”

The directive was issued about an hour before the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board was scheduled to meet to discuss having students return to in-person learning next week.

At that meeting, board chair Elyse Dashew announced that CMS would reconvene for an emergency meeting Thursday at 10 a.m. to discuss and vote on the return to in-person classes.

Mecklenburg County is averaging 900 COVID-19 cases per day, and the most recent positivity rate in data released Tuesday was 15.5%. That’s up from 10.9% in early December.

“The exponential growth in the number of COVID- 19 cases, hospitalizations and related deaths require immediate action on the part of every member of our community,” Harris said in a statement.

Other actions cited by Harris that should be taken include: avoiding leaving home if you are over 65 or at high risk for developing serious illness, avoiding any non-essential travel and avoiding gathering with anyone you do not live with.

The full directive can be found here.

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Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.