Charlotte, NC

Queen City Roundup 1/21: Fire captain arrested, schools & sites brace for cold, omicron's possible plateau

Collin Cunningham

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will follow his late father to the finish line when he's inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte tonight(James Gilbert/Getty Images)

By Collin Cunningham

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy Friday, Charlotteans! In some good news, snow won't be hitting the Queen City like it did last weekend, but Charlotte will still be cold. Today's high of 32 will slowly dip into the mid-20s during the evening with up to two inches of flakes possible overnight and a high of 40 for Saturday. This Roundup will tell you how local school districts and COVID-19 test sites are preparing for low temperatures.

It also clues readers into the arrest of Charlotte Fire Department Captain Vincent Wolfe, who police accused of domestic violence against his wife and 17-year-old son. Local health experts say the surge of the omicron variant of COVID-19 may have reached its peak in the Metrolina region. North Carolina's health department, however, reported 29,580 cases of the virus on Thursday as hospitalizations continue to smash records.

It is Friday, Jan. 21, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until Monday.

1. Charlotte Fire captain arrested, accused of assaulting wife and son

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In February, Vincent Wolfe will have been with the Charlotte Fire Department for 19 years.(Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office)

What happened: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department arrested a member of one of the Queen City's fellow public safety agencies on Wednesday. Officers charged Charlotte Fire Captain Vincent Wolfe with assaulting his wife and 17-year-old son. They took him into custody around 7:41 p.m. while responding to a domestic violence call on Tarlton Drive, near Matthews.

Why it matters: The CMPD transitioned Wolfe into the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office and the CFD placed him on administrative leave as officials conduct an internal investigation. After Wolfe's arrest, Charlotte Fire Chief Reginald Johnson said the following, per WBTV:

Firefighters with the Charlotte Fire Department are expected to conduct themselves to the highest professional standards on and off duty and will be held accountable when they fail to do so. I am disappointed by the charges against our firefighter. This does not represent or reflect our values as a Department.

Learn about Wolfe's history with the CFD Below the Fold.

2. COVID-19 test and vaccination sites, schools close as Charlotte prepares for round 2 of cold weather

What's happening: After prescribing up to two inches of snow for Charlotte and as many as three inches in the southward Union County, local meteorologists dialed back their estimates: Mecklenburg County is likely to get half an inch. In response, StarMed Healthcare and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools decided to rein in their respective operations on Friday.

StarMed elected to close all but one of its Mecklenburg County COVID-19 test sites while CMS shuttered school buildings and pivoted to remote learning "out of an abundance of caution."

Why it matters: StarMed said its Tuckaseegee Road location will remain open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

CMS students have had only one full day of class this week, on Thursday. Monday was MLK Day, a federal holiday, and district leaders decided to cancel classes Tuesday due to lingering road conditions. A two-hour delay followed on Wednesday.

Other local school districts to close or require remote learning Friday are as follows:

  • Alexander County Schools — Remote learning
  • Anson County Schools — Closed for staff and students
  • Cabarrus County Schools — Remote learning
  • Chester County Schools — Remote learning
  • Cleveland County Schools — Closed for students, optional workday with two-hour delay for staff
  • Caldwell County Schools — Remote learning
  • Fort Mill Schools — Remote learning
  • Hickory Public Schools — Remote learning
  • Kannapolis County Schools — Closed for students
  • Lincoln County Schools — Remote learning, optional/remote workday with two-hour delay for staff
  • Rowan-Salisbury Schools — Remote learning
  • Rock Hill Schools — Remote learning
  • Iredell-Statesville Schools — Remote learning with three-hour delay for staff
  • Union County Schools — Closed for students

3. Local health experts hint that omicron is slowing before state reports nearly 30K COVID cases, record hospitalizations

Speaking to the Charlotte Observer about the omicron variant of COVID-19 on Thursday, Atrium Health epidemiologist Dr. Katie Passareti said "We're starting to plateau" but "We haven't yet turned that corner." The corner she referred to reared its head the same day when the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 29,580 new cases of the coronavirus and 4,741 current hospitalizations.

Other numbers and testing/pill opportunities: The NCDHHS data also revealed 71 new deaths related to the virus, bringing the Tar Heel State to 20,108 COVID-19 fatalities. In Mecklenburg County, the 14-day average for new coronavirus cases is 3,130, up from the average of 2,935 seen last Friday.

WSOC has organized a list of Charlotte-area locations offering COVID-19 testing. Mecklenburg County keeps a panoply of coronavirus vaccination sites on this page.

StarMed, meanwhile, is preparing to offer a new kind of COVID-19 treatment in the form of molnupiravir, an antiviral capsule designed to treat symptoms ranging from mild to moderate, according to WBTV. Best taken within five days of a positive diagnosis, patients over the age of 18 can register for the pill here.

StarMed's website states the pill has yet to receive final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, despite the FDA's Dec. 23 emergency use authorization. The website also states that the pill, manufactured by New Jersey pharmaceutical firm Merck and Florida medical company Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, does not serve as a substitute for the coronavirus vaccine.

Weekend reading list

To keep readers in the know until Monday, here are a few additional stories out of Charlott that did not make the Roundup this week:

Below the Fold (but not the cold)

Charlotte Fire captain, continued: According to LinkedIn, Wolfe started with the department as a firefighter in 2003 and worked for Ladder Company 32 in Charlotte's Ballantyne neighborhood. He attained the rank of captain in 2018 and has served as the director of emergency services at a fire damage repair service 1-800-BOARDUP since March of 2021.

The 32nd fire division's truck made headlines back in 2014 after it rolled over during two fire responses in a seven-month period.

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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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