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Health officials concerned over crowded parks, lakes

"Based on what we saw yesterday with the parks, with the lakes, there are still a lot of people who aren't taking this seriously.”

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a sunny, warm weekend across the Carolinas and health officials are concerned that people are not taking the advice of health officials seriously to practice social distancing.

Mecklenburg officials are warning people to please stay at home.

"Based on what we saw yesterday with the parks, with the lakes, the sandbars.  There are still a lot of people who aren't taking this seriously,” said Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris.  “We need everyone, everyone, to be part of the solution."

Harris said there are extra levels of restrictions that can be applied if that becomes necessary.  "It's possible that we would need to look at enforcement in a different way than we are at this point and time."

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Harris issued a plea Sunday afternoon for social distancing, as the county reached a dreaded milestone; the first death due to coronavirus.

The patient was 60-years-old, who had significant underlying medical conditions, and likely got the virus through community spread.

"COVID-19 is in our community.  We do have community spread, and you need to assume that you're going to be exposed if you're out and about," Harris said.

Health officials say approximately one of every five new cases are requiring hospitalization and a high number of positive tests are still coming from the younger population.

While health officials say exercising and getting fresh air is important, it's equally important to stay at least six feet away from anyone outside your immediate family.

At 5 p.m. Monday the statewide stay at home order takes effect and will last for 30 days.  It's similar to Mecklenburg County’s order that is already in place, which requires requires residents to stay home unless they are doing essential shopping or work at an essential operation. 

"The curve will not flatten immediately," Harris explained.  "We don't expect to see our numbers to drop right away just because we put a stay at home order in place."

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WCNC Charlotte’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit wcnc.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Carolinas specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 704-329-3600. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning by subscribing to the Wake Up Charlotte newsletter here.

The state of North Carolina has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 866-462-3821 or read the frequently asked questions.  In South Carolina, for general questions about the coronavirus, call the DHEC Care Line 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls 8 a.m.-6 p.m. every day.