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98% of Mecklenburg County residents not tested for coronavirus

The vast majority of people in Mecklenburg County still haven’t been tested, roughly 98 percent, including the County Health Director Gibbie Harris.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There are major developments in testing for coronavirus in Mecklenburg County.

WCNC Charlotte has learned the county has now tested about 21,000 people for the virus.  That’s roughly two percent of the county’s 1.1 million people. The new numbers come a day after Governor Cooper outlined a plan to reopen North Carolina and testing was a key part of it. Now, county leaders say they’re reviewing their plans for testing moving forward.

The vast majority of people in Mecklenburg County still haven’t been tested, roughly 98 percent, including the County Health Director Gibbie Harris.

During a news conference on Friday, County Health Director Harris and County Manager Dena Diorio gave updates about the coronavirus.

“We have seen our curve flatten,” said Director Harris.

WCNC Charlotte also learned the two leaders are among the 98 percent in Mecklenburg County who have not been tested. 

“I have not been tested,” said Director Harris as she coughed. “I am having trouble with allergies, and I'm pretty sure that's what is going on here.”

“I have not been tested either,” said Manager Diorio.

Testing is a key component of Governor Cooper’s plan to reopen North Carolina in phases. However, according to new numbers, only about two percent of Mecklenburg County’s population has been tested so far.  That’s roughly 21,000 of the county’s 1.1 million residents.

RELATED: North Carolina extends stay home order, announces multi-phase reopening plan

“We have been using the CDC guidance to restrict our testing, basically we have limited access to testing,” said Director Harris.

According to CDC guidelines, people without symptoms are not a priority for testing.  However, the CDC also says studies indicate there’s a significant portion who are asymptomatic but can still spread the virus. WCNC Charlotte has been told that Director Harris gets her temperature checked regularly.

“I get checked every day as I go into the emergency operations center and so far I have passed the screening,” said Director Harris.

“I have not demonstrated any symptoms, so at this point, there's no reason for me to be tested, and because of the limited availability of tests I don't feel it's worth me taking up a test,” said Manager Diorio.

Director Harris said they’re reviewing their testing plan for the future, which also includes considering antibody tests.

WCNC Charlotte asked local leaders how many tests would be needed for them to feel confident about reopening Mecklenburg County, but they said they couldn’t put a number on that because some people may need to be tested multiple times.


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