By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, NC) A new month brings new news, and we're back with the Queen City Roundup to cure your post-Halloween blues. You might be especially blue if you were on one of the 254 American Airlines flights that were canceled going in and out of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport over the weekend. The roundup explains how that affected local flyers and how the cancellations fit into a national trend for air services.
We also recap the Carolina Panthers' Halloween win and the injury that put quarterback Sam Darnold out of the game and answer some pressing questions about when Mecklenburg County's mandatory face mask policy and more.
Today is Monday, November 1, and welcome to a new month, Charlotte. Here's what you need to know.
What happened: American Airlines canceled hundreds of flights across the country over the weekend, blaming poor weather and staffing shortages, and Charlotte was no exception. As of Sunday, 254 arriving and departing flights had been canceled for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with over 900 flights canceled across the country. Charlotte's airport was the second-hardest hit transportation facility in the U.S.
Why it matters: American Airlines' cancellations left some passengers stranded in lines for up to eight hours on a busy travel weekend.
The commercial airline said it would rebook the customers who lost flights and a spokesperson said the company expected fewer issues by Monday, but the delays are part of a growing trend of airline cancellations that have impacted the Charlotte airport and others in the United States. Southwest also nixed flights on Friday after canceling many at the Charlotte Airport in mid-October. Both American and Southwest issued COVID-19 vaccine mandates for staff members over the last month.
It was a series of treats and tricks for the Carolina Panthers yesterday when the team notched a Halloween victory against the Atlanta Falcons on their belt.
Treats: The Panthers won 19-13 and are now batting .500 with a 4-4 win-loss record heading into Week 9 against the New England Patriots on Nov. 7 after a four-game losing streak. The team from up north has also put up 4-4 so far this season, narrowly beating the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 in Sunday's game. Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey is also supposed to return from injured reserve for the Patriots game, flexing his fixed hamstring.
Due to Darnold's injury, backup quarterback P.J. Walker also got more time on the field. He failed to complete his only passing attempt in the fourth quarter, but his few minutes of game time and the 33 passing yards he netted in the team's Week 7 loss to the New York Giants may help if he needs to start against the Patriots, which seems likely because...
Tricks: Sam Darnold suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter when Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokon slammed into his left side in the end zone, ending what ESPN writer David Newton called the starting QB's best performance in over a month. Of his 24 pass attempts, 13 found arms, and he managed to push the ball 129 yards down the field. It is unlikely that Darnold will start against the Patriots as players typically miss at least one game after being concussed.
What's happening: Some Charlotteans are wondering if Mecklenburg County's mask mandate is still in place because some businesses are posting contradicting signs and today marks the return of county employees to office buildings. Those employees are required to mask up regardless of vaccination status.
The mandate remains in effect throughout the county for unvaccinated residents, but health officials have an idea in place of when it will be safe enough to go maskless again.
County data from last week showed that there the countywide COVID-19 positivity rate dipped below 5% on Oct. 27. Mecklenburg leaders have stated the mask mandate will expire once they see a rate of 5% or less for 30 straight days, and the Board of County Commissioners will vote on whether that time frame should be reduced to two weeks when they meet Tuesday.
Why it matters: The county's current mask requirement has been in place since August when the mandate was reinstated during the delta variant's arrival. Previous mandates had set end dates, but this one does not, and like last year many businesses have relaxed their guidelines following initial surges and no longer require guests to wear masks.
The county is also reporting its highest vaccination rate to date: 68% of residents have received a shot. That number is expected to increase after the FDA authorized the Pfizer shot for emergency use in children aged five to 11 on Friday. Charlotte's StarMed Healthcare has already started pre-booking appointments for kids to get vaccinated.
What happened: Students at Charlotte's largest school district will once again be able to participate in year-end prom festivities, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials announced on Friday. The district is leaving the planning up to individual buildings but asked principals to be “mindful of cancellation clauses when entering contractual agreements with external venues, in the event we are mandated to limit social gatherings due to COVID-related issues."
Why it matters: Prom is a major capstone event for high schoolers, and the district canceled the spring dance in 2020 and earlier this year due to the pandemic.
“It’s such exciting news because I know seniors past years, these past two years, haven’t really had the opportunity to have a prom and I think it’s a great way for seniors to be able to connect and really have fun with each other," CMS student Echo Horne told WBTV.