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Mecklenburg County leaders want a stay-at-home extension

County manager asked the board for a joint letter to Governor Roy Cooper requesting the two week extension of the current stay home order.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County leaders want a 2-week extension to the statewide stay-at-home order, which would automatically extend the county's more strict order. 

At a virtual county board meeting on Wednesday night, County Manager Dena Diorio said she would advise the board write a letter to Governor Roy Cooper, asking for the extension in order to better plan a slow re-open of the local economy. 

However, hours later in the same meeting, Diorio withdrew that request, citing reports that were coming in that said Governor Cooper would unveil his plan on Thursday for reopening North Carolina. 

"It might be too late at this point," she told the board as she cited the reports. 

There's been a statewide movement to reopen North Carolina, and on Wednesday night, county commissioners heard directly from a couple of residents who support the idea. 

RELATED: North Carolina governor to announce plan for phased reopening: Report

"My belief is that all jobs are essential," said Mecklenburg County resident Fawnda Hill. 

"Wanting businesses to open and care for people's lives are not mutually exclusive," added resident Adam Huminsky. 

"The stay at home order is limiting an individual's ability to provide for their family," said Hill. "The so-called cure is far worse than the virus itself."

Some county leaders disagreed, citing the data showing coronavirus cases in the county continue to climb, as well as hospitalizations. 

"What they're advocating is recklessness," said Commissioner Trevor Fuller. " This so-called movement has all the hallmarks of a political movement, a political rally."

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said models show there will be an increase in cases for weeks to come. 

RELATED: 76 new cases in Mecklenburg: Real-time updates Wednesday, April 22

"We haven't hit our peak yet," she said. "We will definitely see additional cases."

Diorio set up a business round table with leaders from several chambers of commerce, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, retail services, the local restaurant industry, the county health department, the City of Charlotte, and others. 

It will be tasked with producing a plan for the county to slowly re-open. It's why Diorio wants the extension to the statewide order. 

If Governor Cooper extends the order, Mecklenburg County's local order would automatically be extended as well based on how it was written and first passed. 

However, if Cooper does not extend the statewide order, Mecklenburg County would need to gain the support of local towns and municipalities within the county in order to extend it. 

"I think it's fairly mixed at this point. I think there are some town mayors that are interested in not extending the order, and there are some that may be supportive," Diorio said. 

Harris was also pressed on her her stance with reopening the county even though cases are still set to increase with a peak not projected until late-June.

Her response was at odds with the slow reopening plans. 

"It's probably not a best public health practice to look at widely opening the county," she said as she noted social distancing and the stay-at-home order are both needed.  

Now, the county plans to wait on the Governor's announcement on Thursday before moving. 

RELATED: Mecklenburg County adding more handwashing stations, bathrooms for homeless

RELATED: South Carolina schools will remain closed the rest of the school year

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