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'We are concerned' | Mecklenburg County health director provides CMS with recommendations to limit COVID-19 spread

Health Director Gibbie Harris said Mecklenburg County is experiencing an "ongoing surge" of COVID-19 cases with a high risk of community transmission.

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — In a letter to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris provided recommendations for the district in responding to the ongoing pandemic. Among the recommendations: employing additional staff specifically designated for COVID-19 response. 

Harris said her letter comes as Mecklenburg County experiences an "ongoing surge" in COVID-19 cases with a high risk of community transmission. 

The letter was dated Aug. 20 and comes as the district prepares for thousands of students to return to class for the first day of school Wednesday.

RELATED: CMS board to meet Tuesday before 1st day of school

"We are concerned and need a strong sense of urgency toward implementing these recommendations to ensure we start the school year ahead of the curve instead of behind it," Harris said in the letter. 

Harris recommended CMS hire additional staff to form the infrastructure for the district's COVID-19 response, including administrative positions at the district level, as well as staffing at the individual school level to help with testing, contact tracing and more. 

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Further, Harris recommended CMS require weekly testing of any staff who have not submitted proof of vaccination, on-site rapid testing for symptomatic students and staff, and offering testing to quarantined close contacts to allow for quicker returns to school. 

RELATED: Which Charlotte businesses require employees to be vaccinated?

Finally, Harris recommends increased "mitigation measures" across the district, such as a universal mask mandate, contact tracing following CDC guidance, continued social distancing, maximized ventilation in buildings, and more. 

The Mecklenburg County Public Health Department intends to work with the district to ensure students, teachers and staff are safely back in schools, according to Harris. 

You can read the full letter below. Click here if you can not see the letter. 

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