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COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations decrease in Meck County

Mecklenburg County Public Health reported average positivity rate of 5.5% over the last week. It must be below 5% seven days for the mask mandate to be removed.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease in Mecklenburg County but those levels aren't quite low enough for the county's mask mandate to be removed. 

Health experts say the more people who are vaccinated, the lower the percent positivity rate will be. That’s important after County Commissioners voted earlier this week to change the rule about when the mask mandate could be dropped. Based on the current trends, it could be soon

“Everyday we calculate what the average has been for the past 7 days. And that’s what we count for that day. So, the next day we count back 7 days and average,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. “So, what that does is keep us from having to deal with one spike during that 7 day period, it’s what we call rolling average.”

Through Wednesday, Nov. 3, Mecklenburg County's seven-day positivity rate was 5.5%. The positivity rate must be below 5% for seven consecutive days for Mecklenburg County's indoor mask requirement to be dropped. The previous rule required the positivity rate to be below 5% for 30 consecutive days. 

Harris told WCNC Charlotte reporter Chloe Leshner it’s a “definite possibility” the mask mandate is removed in the next few weeks.

“The report that we put out today our 7-day average for positivity rate is at 5.5%. That’s the best it’s been in quite some time,” she said.

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Schools are following guidance from the state and masking becomes optional for vaccinated staff and students when there is moderate spread in the community, and optional for everyone when there is low spread. Right now, the community is still experiencing substantial spread.

“It may be that the mask mandate in general could potentially go away a little bit earlier than the mask mandate in schools. We’ll just have to see how that plays out,” Harris said.

Despite the positive progress, health leaders remain focused on getting vaccination rates up and are still asking people to be cautious in crowded situations.

“We continue to as we go into the holidays and into the winter, when viruses are more of an issue, that masking is still something people consider,” Harris said.

There are a lot of community vaccine events throughout the county this weekend, Harris is hopeful parents will get their 5 to 11 year olds vaccinated.

Mecklenburg County reported 184 new cases on Nov. 3, down from 248 the month prior and well down from the peak of 648 on Sept. 20. Hospitalizations have seen a steady decline since mid-September. On Wednesday, the county reported 144 hospitalizations linked to COVID-19.

Mecklenburg County health officials said 61% of adults are partially vaccinated while 57% of adults are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Mecklenburg County said it will be offering vaccinations for everyone at least 5 years old this weekend. Click here for more information about scheduling a vaccine appointment

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