Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 1/7: More COVID-19 records, district map decision Tuesday, changes to student quarantines

Collin Cunningham

This kind of extreme partisan gerrymandering is an assault on the most basic principles of representative democracy.

— Attorney Elisabeth Theodor, speaking on behalf of plaintiffs in the trial against North Carolina's district maps

Happy Friday, Charlotte! Banksy is coming to town — or his work is, at least. Expect an opening of "The Art of Banksy: WIthout Limits" at AvidXChange Music Factory on Feb. 25, per the Charlotte Observer. Attendees will be able to pay $27.50 to view over 150 prints, photos, sculptures and other work from the elusive and controversial urban mind.

But before that, we have news from this week. North Carolina broke another single-day COVID-19 case record with over 24,000 new infections Thursday, but vaccination rates have also increased by a few points. North Carolina's Supreme Court judges are expected to have their decision in the gerrymandering suit leveled against the state's new voting maps on Tuesday. And the state's health department will not require vaccinated students to quarantine under new guidelines. Today's Roundup ends with briefs on the Hornets and Panthers.

It is Friday, Jan. 7, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until Monday.

1. NC breaks two consecutive single-day COVID-19 case records

What happened: On Wednesday and Thursday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Services reported back-to-back, record-high COVID-19 case rates. Wednesday brought 20,770 cases in 24 hours and Thursday had 24,492 cases. The department's dashboard currently shows 3,293 people hospitalized due to COVID-19.

Mecklenburg County has seen an average of 2,196 new cases per 100,000 residents over the last two weeks. Mecklenburg residents can find places to get tested for COVID-19 here or use the state's tool to find testing sites.

Why it matters: While cases have been increasing drastically, calls from state officials to get vaccinated and boosted have apparently not fallen on deaf ears. About 63% of Tar Heel State residents have received one dose of vaccine, 59% have received two and health care workers have administered 2,589,612 additional or booster shots.

In Mecklenburg County, 65% of residents have gotten at least one shot and 61% have two.

View more coronavirus-related headlines Below the Fold.

2. NC judges to reach conclusion on district map suit by Tuesday

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Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn speaks at a Washington, DC event against gerrymandered maps(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

What happened: Oral arguments in the lawsuit accusing North Carolina's district map of gerrymandering ended Thursday and a three-judge panel will report their decision on the four-day trial on Tuesday. If judges overturn the case, they could employ suggested new maps, send the contentious ones back to a vote or appoint a delegate to create

What did each side say? The lawsuits ended up being a bipartisan affair after the North Carolina Supreme Court combined filings from Common Cause and the North Carolina League of Conservative Voters. Both groups hold that the map grants Republican lawmakers an unfair margin of 10 seats compared to Democrats' expected four.

“This kind of extreme partisan gerrymandering is an assault on the most basic principles of representative democracy,” said attorney Elizabeth Theodore, speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, per CBS17. "The plans were intentionally drawn to entrench Republican dominance in North Carolina’s Congressional delegation and in both chambers of the General Assembly.” 

Phil Strach, representing Republican legislators, argued that the maps — which the state's House and Senate approved in November — do not grant GOP members a significant advantage.

3. NCDHHS: Vaccinated NC students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be updating its Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit today, advising districts that students who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine, even if exposed to the coronavirus. Additional guidelines could be included in today's toolkit revisions, but the department did not announce any in specific.

Today marks the second update to the toolkit since Dec. 30, the first shortening post-exposure and post-infection quarantines from 10 days to five due to changing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The news comes on the heels of a study that found 92% of COVID-19 transmission at North Carolina schools takes place during lunchtime, when students remove their masks to eat, per WCNC.

4. Sports briefs: Hornets hurdle Pistons, Panthers place 2 on COVID list

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Kelly Oubre Jr leaps above a Phoenix Suns player during the Hornets' 133-99 loss on Jan. 2(Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
  • Hornets hurdle Pistons at home, breaking 3-pointer records: The Detroit Pistons chased the Hornets around the court at Spectrum Center for a good four quarters on Wednesday. Charlotte sunk 48 of 81 field goals as Kelly Oubre continues to shine with 24 points in the third through a record-setting eight-pack of 3-pointers. The Hornets had their most 3-pointers to date, scoring over half of their 140 units against Detroit via 24 long shots. Final score: 140-111, Charlotte. The Milwaukee Bucks will meet the Hornets at home tomorrow and Monday.
  • Panthers place 2 on COVID-19 list: Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and rookie wide receiver Shi Smith will not join the Panthers against the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sunday after Carolina resigned them to its COVID-19 list. Gilmore missed last week's loss to the New Orleans Saints due to a groin injury and would likely have missed the Panthers' last game of the season regardless. He gave the Panthers 16 tackles this season, 12 coming during his last five bouts.

Below the Fold

More COVID-19 news to keep you informed through the weekend:

Weekend reading list

And here is a handful of stories to stay up-to-date and entertained until Monday:

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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!

Charlotte, NC
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