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Mecklenburg County health leaders identify key ways Covid-19 is spreading in the community

Health leaders say contact tracers have linked restaurants and private gatherings with family and friends as hot spots for the Coronavirus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County health leaders are using contact tracing to track cases of Covid-19 in the community.  So far, they've been able to determine a few hot spots.

Health leaders say 75-percent of recent positive Coronavirus cases can be traced back to just a few specific places.  Those include restaurants and breweries and large private gatherings of families and friends. 

"Contact tracing continues to be an essential part of our work," said Gibbie Harris the Director of the Mecklenburg County Health Department. 

Harris briefed county commissioners during their regular Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday night. 

"We work every case. We have conversations with everybody who tests positive. The whole idea is to find out how they became positive and who they may have exposed," said Harris. 

She told the board that contact tracing is helping them pinpoint where new cases of the virus are being spread. Contact tracing is the process of notifying people who've come into close contact with people infected with Covid-19. Health officials contact the infected person and then contact each person that they've come into contact with. Often those people are then urged to self-quarantine or get tested or both. 

RELATED: When contact tracing works, families, friends and co-workers avoid infection

Health officials said it’s no surprise people who tested positive were most likely to spread the virus at restaurants and breweries and at private gatherings of 25 or more people. Normally this are places where people feel relaxed and more comfortable and let their guard down.

"You are around your family. You trust your family. You feel safe around your family. You feel safe around your friends. That does not mean they're not Covid-19 positive,” said Harris.

Harris also told county commissioners she's concerned about house parties which seem to be taking the place of bars as a source of gatherings.  She said she's seen spread among high school and college students that can be traced back to house parties. 

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Harris warns that while Covid-19 numbers are trending downwards, we are far from out of the woods.

"You still need to use precautions. We continue to talk about limiting the gatherings you're involved in because that's where we know this is spreading," she said.