Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 12/30: ERs battle COVID-19, Mayo Bowl to bring money, masks at NYE CLT

Collin Cunningham

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University of North Carolina Tar Heels running back Ty Chandler rushes in warmups before today's Duke's Mayo Bowl.(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good Mayo Bowl morning, everyone! Today's Duke's bowl game between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks is anticipated to bring a sizable amount of money to Charlotte. We'll tell you how much, and which roads will be closed because of it.

Local emergency rooms are feeling the pressure of the COVID-19 surge led by the omicron variant, with some patients waiting over 10 hours for service at Charlotte's hospitals as more than 2,100 people are hospitalized in North Carolina due to the coronavirus.

The virus will also have an impact on Charlotte's New Years' Eve celebration tomorrow, with event organizers asking attendees to mask up before watching fireworks on North Tryon Street. And today's Safe NYE in the CLT preview looks ahead to 2022 with a list of new businesses slated to hit Charlotte over the next 12 months.

It is Thursday, Dec. 30, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.

1. Patients waiting hours in Charlotte ERs amid COVID-19 surge

What's happening: Emergency rooms in Charlotte are overwhelmed with patients looking for COVID-19 tests and are asking anyone who needs to be tested to seek testing elsewhere. Courtney Cortes, Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center's director of nursing, told WCNC on Wednesday that all of the hospital's units "are really at critical capacity."

“Across our regions, really, you can anticipate patients waiting in the double-digit hours to get back to a room," Cortes added.

Novant also launched its new Novant Health Now platform on Wednesday, acting as a portal for patients to seek health care locations and advice from doctors, per WCNC.

Why it matters: The news comes as COVID-19 tests grow scarce throughout the country. FOX8 reported on Wednesday that Burlington, North Carolina-based Labcorp announced that it would temporarily halt orders for free at-home coronavirus tests until Sunday. North Carolinians will be able to order the self-test kits from Labcorp's website with overnight shipping on Jan. 3.

It also accompanies the news that 20 employees of StarMed Healthcare had tested positive for the coronavirus, according to MSN. StarMed has been administering coronavirus tests to long lines of cars as its clinic in west Charlotte.

2. Millions in mayo: Analysts predict tonight's bowl game will have big economic impact on Charlotte

What's happening: The Duke's Mayo Bowl starts at 11:30 a.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Uptown, but the Charlotte Sports Foundation is ballparking the 40,000 to 50,000 fans expected at the game will spend $20 million in the hours before and after kickoff. The CSF also predicted Charlotte pulled in over $100 million from sporting events that drew crowds to the Queen City in 2021.

Why it matters: As COVID-19 infections temporarily close small businesses, today's game could be the shot in the arm that Uptown entrepreneurs are seeking. Day and Night Cereal Bar co-owner Greg Robinson told the station that the game would bring "a lot of business to everybody around here."

What else should I know? Tuesday's Roundup previewed the outcome of the collegiate faceoff, and tomorrow's will tell you which team's coach had to bathe in mayonnaise as a result. The game will also close the following streets until 4:30 p.m.:

  • Morehead Street: right westbound lane between South Tryon Street and Interstate 77
  • South Graham Street: between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South Mint Street
  • South Mint Street: between Morehead Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Levine Avenue of the Arts: between South Church Street and South Tryon Street
  • South Graham Street: right southbound lane between West Trade Street and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • South Mint Street: right northbound lane between West Trade Street and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • South Mint Street: between West Stonewall Street and West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • South Mint Street: between Carson Boulevard and Morehead Street
  • Stonewall Street: between South Mint Street and South Church Street
  • Stonewall Street: between Church Street and College Street
  • West 1st Street: between South Mint Street and South Church Street
  • West 4th Street: Right eastbound lane between South Graham Street and South Mint Street
  • West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: between South Mint Street and South Church Street

3. CLT NYE planners urge COVID-19 caution as year-end event returns to Uptown

Between 8,000 and 10,000 Metrolina residents are planning to spend their evening seeing fireworks at the Queen City's New Year's Eve celebration at 8 p.m. tomorrow, and Charlotte Center City Partners wants to see maks and social distancing when guests arrive at North Tryon Street.

"If you come, we really strongly encourage that you wear a mask even though this is outdoors," said Adam Rhew, the vice president of marketing for CCCP. "Especially if you’re not able to keep social distance, we just think it’s really prudent for people to be able to take those extra precautions.”

Food trucks and a DJ will greet fireworks fans when they arrive and the Charlotte-based Mo Money Band takes the main stage at 10 p.m., to be followed by a midnight countdown from Mayor Vi Lyles. A fireworks display will then carry attendees into 2022. It will be the first time sulfur powder has lit up a New Year's sky in Charlotte since the outset of 2020 as last year's event was canceled due to COVID-19.

Yesterday's Roundup offered a few ideas for socially-distanced NYE events in Charlotte, the North Tyron Street event included due to its outdoor nature. Learn more about transit options and road closures for tomorrow's celebration Below the Fold.

Speaking of New Year's Eve in Charlotte...

4. Safe NYE in the CLT: New businesses to anticipate in 2022

The QCR has already recommended New Year's resolutions, but here's another one: Support one of these new restaurants during their opening year.

This homely bakery is planning on transplanting its main operation from Villa Heights to North Davidson in 2022. The ongoing COVID-19 surge initially hampered owners' timelines, but now they intend to move the bakery's flagship store to 136 E. 36th St. in the spring. In the meantime, readers can salivate over Amelie's online menu or peruse pastries at any of its three other locations.

The west Charlotte neighborhood of Wesley Heights is light on wine options, but the owners of Counter- are looking to change that with Biblio in April. Counter- already presents an "immersive mix of sound, taste, art, and hands on involvement" but Chef Sam Hart's latest venture is aiming for a more traditional experience with wine tastings and pairings. Biblio is set to land at 700 Tuckaseegee Road, where Hart also envisions a new location for Counter-.

Here's one that readers should be able to enjoy within the next month at 235 W. Tremont Ave. in South End after a scheduled Jan. 19 opening. Many of PARA's plates Japan-inspired plates will be palatable for the whole family, allowing Charlotteans to enjoy a new dining experience along with the new year. Others, like lobster toast with milk bread and caviar, might be difficult to share.

Below the Fold

CLE NYT, continued: Charlotte is encouraging anyone attending tomorrow's countdown to board the LYNX Blue Line light rail and depart at CTC Station on East Trade Street, 3rd Street Station or Stonewell Station on East Stonewall Street due to road closures. The following roads will be blocked off for the event, per WBTV:

  • Tryon Street will be closed between Stonewall Street and Marting Luther King Jr. starting tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. and will reopen on Saturday at 1 a.m.
  • Levine Avenue of the Arts will not allow traffic between 9 a.m. tomorrow and 3 a.m. on Saturday.

The Charlotte Area Transit System is also letting riders board buses and rail systems for free on New Year's Day.

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I cover the city of Charlotte, North Carolina for NewsBreak's Creator Program. Check back often for daily headline roundups to learn what's happening in the Queen City!

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