By Collin Cunningham
From the hospital's perspective, we are nowhere out of this pandemic. I think as the community looks at those positive signs of decreasing cases, we need them to know that your healthcare workers are still in this battle knee-deep.
— Atrium Health Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Jim Hunter, speaking Wednesday during a Mecklenburg County Public Health briefing on COVID-19 trends
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Good morning, Charlotteans. Following trends witnessed across the United States and North Carolina, lines at COVID-19 testing sites are decreasing in Mecklenburg County, but the number of patients in hospital beds remains high ahead of a county test distribution event.
A startup effort led by local officials and business leaders released its first report outlining solutions for aiding Mecklenburg County's homeless population. Today's temperatures cap out at 48 in the afternoon and 29 moving into the evening, but the possibility of snow this weekend has Charlotte meteorologists whipped into another frenzy. And LaMelo Ball led the Hornets to a landmark victory with a triple-double on Wednesday.
It is Thursday, Jan. 27, and here's what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.
1. Meck Co. COVID-19 update: Medical experts renew call for vaccine ahead of Saturday test distribution event
What happened: Mecklenburg County health experts assembled on Wednesday to provide an update on local COVID-19 trends, encourage residents to get vaccinated and boosted against the virus and announce a test distribution event for Saturday.
Any county residents who visit North Mecklenburg High School on Old Statesville Road in Huntersville between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday will be able to retrieve at-home testing kits and N95 masks, per WBTV. Readers can find other test sites throughout the county here.
Why it matters: The news comes after MAKO Medical Laboratories opened three new coronavirus test sites in Charlotte, Cornelius and Huntersville on Tuesday, though lines at testing locations throughout the Queen City are much lower than they were last month. It also follows the county's decision to scale back on contact tracing.
The numbers: Wednesday data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services showed an average of 3,210 cases in Mecklenburg County residents over the last two weeks. That's an increase of 275 from the same figure seen on Jan. 14.
Ninety-four people have died in the county due to coronavirus-related symptoms since the county last released data on Jan. 4, bringing Mecklenburg to a pandemic total of 1,420 fatalities.
2. 'A Home for All' | Charlote, Meck. Co. release report outlining strategies to mitigate homelessness
What happened: Leaders from Charlotte and Mecklenburg County released their first report in a collaborative effort to combat homelessness in the Charlotte metropolitan area on Wednesday. A press release from the 2025 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy outlines the skeleton of the initiative, which will address nine factors contributing to housing woes:
- affordable housing
- cross-sector supports
- long-term strategy
While the strategic framework is extensive, it doesn't include a list of actionable plans or double-checked expenditures; rather, the press release states the CMHHS' first report is a sort of guideline that city and county leadership can use to craft policy using the report's community toolkit. According to WCNC, a full implementation plan could be released by this summer.
Why it matters: Homelessness is not a new issue in Charlotte. In October, WBTV reported that a study from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte showed that 3,137 Mecklenburg residents were dealing with homelessness in June 2021, a 55% jump over the 2,025 individuals facing homelessness in June 2020. Read more about local efforts to reduce homelessness Below the Fold.
3. Snow worries: Charlotte meteorologists suggest slight snowfall, slippery streets this weekend
For the third week in a row, Charlotteans are asking themselves: Will we have snow this weekend? Meteorologist Larry Sprinkle at WCNC predicts snow will arrive around 4 p.m. on Friday, leading to up to two inches of snow in Charlotte between Friday evening and Sunday morning.
Weather.com sets an 80% chance of precipitation for Friday evening, with less than one inch of snow to follow. Saturday will have a high of 37 and a low of 20 and a report from the National Weather Service states the freezing temperatures and combined accumulation could result in icy roads Saturday morning and night through the start of Sunday.
Northwest of the Queen City, Alexander, Caldwell and Catawba counties have a low chance of being audience to a light dusting, The Charlotte Observer reports. Either way, it's unlikely that Charlotte will break its Jan. 28 snowfall record of 5.5 inches, set in 1889.
4. Seventh in the East: Hornets 27-22 with 33 games remaining, Ball sets records with triple-double vs. Pacers
Coming up on the 50th game of their 82-game season on Friday, the Charlotte Hornets have won four and lost three since the Roundup last covered them. The team had a bit of a streak going after knocking the Knicks down 97-87on Jan. 17, doing celebration dances on the Celtics in Boston 111-102 on Jan. 19 and terrorizing the Oklahoma City Thunder at home 121-98 on Jan. 21.
But when Atlanta came to town on Sunday, the Hawks hamstrung the Hornets 113-91 and the Raptors did the same on Tuesday for a final of 125-113.
Charlotte came back charging on Wednesday, however, as LaMelo Ball set a triple-double across four metrics during 38 minutes of play to pummel the Pacers 158-126 in Indiana, per Yahoo! Sports:
- Most points in a game with 158
- Most points in a half at 87
- Most 3-pointers in a game with 24
- Most triple-doubles in a season with four
The 24-24 Los Angeles Lakers are set to land at Spectrum Center for a 7:30 p.m. match against the Hornets on Friday. The game will be broadcast on TV via ESPN and on readers' radios at 610 WFNZ.
Below the Fold
Homelessness, continued: The CMHHS report comes nearly a year after the Mecklenburg County Health Department ordered "Tent City," an Uptown encampment for homeless people, torn down in February 2021. The county put people ejected from the camp in a pair of hotels as service workers attempted to rehome them, but WFAE reported in September that many Charlotte landlords did not want to rent to the former camp residents.