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Familiar 'crescent & wedge' disparity playing out in Mecklenburg COVID-19 data, health officials seek solutions

The "crescent and wedge" dynamic, used to describe traditional social and economic gaps in certain regions of Charlotte is emerging in the latest crisis, COVID-19.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Many Charlotteans are familiar with what has been called the "crescent and wedge" dynamic.

If you look at the shape of the city and how certain socioeconomic disparities play out, there is typically a wedge-shaped region of affluence in south Charlotte and a northern crescent-shaped region, largely marked by lesser means.

Usually, this dynamic is applied to income, poverty, food insecurity, and access to resources. However, it is playing out in the COVID-19 trends, and health officials are seeking solutions for this problem.

The latest Mecklenburg County COVID-19 data shows the crescent and wedge trend emerging in vaccination rates and COVID-19 cases per capita. The neighborhoods with the highest rates are in the so-called wedge of affluence in the south, where roughly 70 to 90% of people there are vaccinated.

Meantime, the lowest uptake is in northwest and east Charlotte. In those neighborhoods, a third or less of residents have had their shots.

Conversely, neighborhoods seeing the most new cases per capita are in the northern crescent, in the areas with the lowest vaccine uptake and also traditionally the ones with the least access to resources.

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Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg's public health director, said health officials have been trying to tackle these disparities from the start.

"We're not terribly surprised by that data. We knew that we were having challenges with certain populations to get them the vaccine and to help them be comfortable with their vaccinations," Harris said.

Harris said vaccine providers have been organizing pop-up vaccination events in those areas needing the most support, incentivized vaccinations will be targeted there, and workers are going door-to-door to hand out information about vaccines.

RELATED: North Carolina to give away $25 cash cards as incentive to get COVID-19 vaccine

But it's clear -- familiar dynamics are still playing out, and Harris said they would welcome more solutions.

"That work will continue, and if there are other ideas that the community has, we're listening to those as well," Harris said.

Contact Vanessa Ruffes at vruffes@wcnc.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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