CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris announced the county just experienced the second pediatric death in the state of North Carolina since the start of the pandemic.
Harris made the announcement during a virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon. Harris did not provide any additional information regarding that death.
"This is not an acceptable situation for Mecklenburg County," Harris said. "We need to continue to stay focused on how we can prevent it from happening again."
Mecklenburg County announced Tuesday that public health will be opening additional appointments for the first three weeks of February for Groups 1 and 2 based on anticipated vaccine supply. Appointments will be available for scheduling beginning Jan. 21 at 8:30 a.m.
In the county, that's about 80,000 people. But the health department isn't expected to vaccinate all of them, some people could be in long term care facilities or go through the hospital systems.
"We’re excited about these appointments that we’re opening up but understand we won’t be able to provide one to everyone who is eligible. That’s challenging," said Dr. Meg Sullivan with the Health Department.
Earlier this month, the county updated its vaccination plan to align with new federal and state recommendations (as recommended by current guidelines). Because vaccine supplies are currently limited, the vaccine distribution is being rolled out in phases.
"We are very hopeful that allotments will grow both for the health department as well as in the county as well as the state and the country. We don't have any definitive information right now," said Sullivan.
The county will get 1,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800 doses of the Moderna. This is the first Moderna shipment for Mecklenburg County.
- Group 1 includes healthcare workers with current in-person patient contact and long-term care staff and residents.
- Group 2 includes anyone 65 years or older, regardless of health status or living situation.
Instructions for making appointments are available at MeckNC.gov/COVID-19.
Eligible Group 1 and 2 members may make a first dose appointment online at https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/83g1hcpv/.
Phone appointments may be made by calling 980-314-9400 and selecting Option 3. If you leave a message MCPH will attempt to return the call within 24-48 business hours.
Harris says they encourage people to get vaccinated in their home counties but because it is a federal program, they are not turning people who are eligible away. But, people have to get their second dose where they get the first one.
Mecklenburg County reported there are 77,537 total coronavirus cases with 697 deaths linked to the virus as of Tuesday. According to the health department, Mecklenburg County has averaged 782 lab-confirmed cases daily in the past week. That's down slightly from the 14-day average of 841 confirmed cases.
Hospitalizations continue to rise, with a daily average of 540 people being treated in hospitals for the coronavirus in Mecklenburg County. That's up over the 14-day average, according to county data. The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests has dipped slightly to 12.4%.
Atrium Health announced they have scheduled more than 100,000 vaccine appointments. A mass distribution event happening this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway is completely booked.
“Anytime you can get out a lot of the vaccine, it’s a good thing. So we appreciate the fact that Atrium is doing this," said Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris.
Novant Health also working to hold large-scale vaccine clinics, the plans hinging on how many doses they get from the state.
"Our proposal to the state for the 6 mass vaccination sites is to increase our allocation to 95,000 which is significantly higher than what it is right now," said Nikki Nissen, Chief Nursing Officer for Novant Health.
This week, the health system will get 5,325 first doses.
"We always want more supply. We never think we have enough. We're always asking for more," said Dr. David Priest with Novant Health.
On Monday, StarMed began distributing the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines to patients who already received their first dose as part of Phase 1a and Phase 1b vaccinations. The goal of the partnership is to speed up the process of getting patients fully vaccinated.
The county's appointment system was overwhelmed and fully booked when opened to the public earlier this month. Harris said this partnership with StarMed will free up the county's workers to distribute more vaccines to the public.
The CDC has recommended anyone 65 or older get the shot.
"In general, we support getting everyone a vaccine but as it stands today we won't have enough to accommodate that extra group of people," Dr. David Priest with Novant Health said.