Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 12/31: Beamer's mayo bath, 18,000 new COVID-19 cases, schools weigh options

Collin Cunningham

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USC head coach Shane Beamer hoists a rooster ahead of his mayo bath after his team beat UNC 38-21 in Thursday's Duke's Mayo Bowl.(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy Friday, QCR readers! Yesterday, University of South Carolina head football coach Shane Beamer took a bath in Duke's mayonnaise after his team beat the University of North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl, 38-21. The latest coronavirus data from North Carolina's health department met and exceeded previous case and hospitalization records.

We'll tell you how many new cases appeared yesterday, and how leaders at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are preparing for students to return next week amid the omicron variant's surge. And our last Safe NYE in the CLT takes a look back at some of the biggest events and stories to dominate Charlotte headlines in 2021.

It is Friday, Dec. 31, and we hope you enjoy the last Queen City Roundup of the year. The Roundup will return in 2022, with everything residents of the Queen City need to know for next year.

1. Beamer takes Mayo Bowl bath after Gamecocks garble Tar Heels in Charlotte

What happened: Yesterday's Duke's Mayo Bowl ended with the South Carolina Gamecocks defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels, 38-21. USC tight end Jaheim Bell and running back Kevin Harris did the most work for the Gamecocks, traveling the ball 159 and 169 yards, respectively. Over on UNC's side of the field, quarterback Sam Howell racked up 205 throwing yards and one TD and running back British Brooks reached the endzone on a 63-yard rush.

Why it matters: Those who aren't alumni of either USC or UNC may take more interest in what happened after the game: a mayo bath for South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer.

The smelly shower comes after both Beamer and USC head coach Mack Brown agreed to receive a mayonnaise baptism if their team won, and Duke's will donate $10,000 to charity as a result of the wager. Beamer joined South Carolina's football program in December of 2020, and his first season with the team has thus far brought him a 7-6 overall record, a bowl game win and a tub full of emulsified egg yolks to the dome.

"I got hammered in the back of the head from the cooler — and then came the mayo," Beamer said following the bath. "I may have a concussion. It was awful. ...I have mayo in my pockets, I think."

Read about the Gamecocks' other post-bowl celebrations Below the Fold.

2. Over 18,500 COVID-19 cases in one day: NC shatters case, ER records as Meck Co. awaits tests

What happened: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 18,751 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking the previous record set in January of 11,581 cases.

The state's hospitals also reported 4,171 patients had visited emergency rooms for coronavirus symptoms that same day, the highest total since the pandemic began. Of those ER patients, NCDHHS said 89% are unvaccinated.

Why it matters: The rising number of cases and patient intakes accompanies a decreasing supply of COVID-19 tests, but officials with the Mecklenburg County Health Department said during a Thursday news conference that they expect a shipment of at-home tests to arrive next week. MCHD did not announce how many kits they are expecting but said the tests would be distributed at county libraries and health department locations.

So how does that affect students at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools?

3. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools plots safe return for students

North Carolina's record-breaking caseloads come as students at Charlotte's largest public school district prepare to return to school from winter break. Classes resume at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Tuesday after a teacher workday on Monday. Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said on Thursday that she had been communicating with district leaders, reiterating that CMS' mask policy remains in place across all school buildings.

The Charlotte Observer reports that full remote learning is not an option for CMS due to Senate Bill 654, a measure that prevents districts from transitioning to entirely remote learning. Gov. Roy Cooper signed the bill in August.

Thursday's conference represents one of Harris' last acts as the leader of Mecklenburg County's health department. Learn more about her tenure and successor Below the Fold.

4. Safe NYE in the CLT: Looking back on 2021 before greeting 2022

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased over the past week, large New Year's Eve gatherings are difficult to recommend. More advisable would be catching up on all the news stories you've missed this year or refreshing your memory of the most important events to take most n Charlotte in 2021. Here are a few reading list picks from local publications to carry you through the next newsletter on Jan. 3, 2022.

  • The Charlotte Post recapped the city's "five biggest soccer stories from 2021" as Charlotte FC prepares to play its first Major League Soccer match in February.
  • NASCAR.com has compiled a list of the best color schemes to grace vehicles this year.
  • WFAE has rounded up several lists of best of stories from 2021, offering a look at the in-depth reporting the NPR affiliate has done this year.
  • The News & Observer took a look at state-level politics to find the 16 bills that Gov. Roy Cooper tossed out in 2021.

Below the Fold

Mayo Bowl, continued: Beamer wasn't the only member of USC's football program to post a post-game video. The Gamecocks' Twitter account posted a video of defensive back Carlos Platel nearly fumbling the Mayo Bowl trophy in the locker room, a reference to the Wisconsin Badgers' trophy smashing incident after the 2020 game, according to Badgers Wire.

Per WBTV, 45,520 college football fans were at Bank of America Stadium for the Thursday morning game. The large gathering may be concerning to business owners worried about COVID-19 infections, but it may be a boon to others who were hoping to see business during the event.

Meck Co. tests, continued: The news of Mecklenburg County's next shipment of COVID-19 tests comes the same week that more than 20 StarMed Healthcare workers tested positive for the virus after performing testing on patients. StarMed opened its newest testing and vaccination clinic at 6859 South Boulevard in Charlotte's Starmount neighborhood in mid-December. The site distributes vaccines as well as PCR and rapid antigen tests.

Gibbie Harris, continued: Harris will retire on Jan. 1 and Mecklenburg County Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington will step into the spot. Harris, who started as health director in 2017, oversaw the health agency through the COVID-19 pandemic. WFAE put out a story chronicling Harris' time with the county, her strengths and the criticisms that have been leveled against her.

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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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