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Cornelius News

County death toll at 7, NCDHHS suggests social distancing is most effective

NC at 3 pm APRIL 6: 2,900+ cases, 270+ hospitalizations, 42 deaths

April 7. By Dave Yochum. There are now seven COVID-19-related deaths in Mecklenburg County, up from six yesterday. According to the Mecklenburg County Health Dept., there are 741 cases diagnosed, up from 733 yesterday.

Statewide yesterday there were 2,870 total cases, up from 2,093 this past Friday.

But hospital capacity is not the primary issue around COVID-19 mortality, according to the NC Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The NCDHHS says lifting all social distancing policies soon after April 29 “may lead to a greater than 50 percent probability that hospital acute care and ICU bed capacity will be outstripped.”

Their current best estimate is that if, after April 29, we “immediately return to the rates of viral transmission occurring prior to widespread social distancing, stress on hospitals to cope with rising demand from COVID-19 patients could begin as soon as Memorial Day.”

Atrium and Novant hospitals anticipate as many as 3,000 COVID patients beyond their surge capacity in the next few weeks.

They are asking Mecklenburg County to “repurpose and transform the UNC Charlotte campus as a field hospital.” UNCC is already clearing six dorms.

The matter is expected to come before the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners tonight. Who pays for the field hospital is the question.


“I will be interested to hear why the county and the state are being asked to fund it and how much do they estimate that to be. I also appreciate UNCC offering their vacant dormitories to respond to the community need,” said County Commissioner Pat Cotham.

The NCDHHS said social distancing is still the best way to manage the flow of patients:

“Various levels of hospital “surge capacity” (in conjunction with lifting social distancing policies at the end of April) could provide some help, but will not materially reduce the probability of bed shortages in the absence of some form of social distancing to slow viral transmission. Put simply, our analysis suggests that in the absence of sufficient social distancing, we cannot “surge” our hospital capacity to the extent we may need.”

Under the current stay-at-home posture there is only a 20 percent chance that we will exceed our ICU capacity, a significant benchmark because people who need ICU and don’t get it have very high fatality rates, according to NC Sen. Jeff Jackson.


“Alternatively, if we lift those restrictions at the end of April there would be a 50 percent chance of exceeding our ICU capacity,” he said.

The model projects that lifting restrictions at the end of April will take us from 250,000 cases to 750,000 cases.

Good news

The good news, Jackson said, it that we are on track to minimize the loss of life in North Carolina.

Bad news

The bad news: “Absent a separate set of policies that are equally effective at reducing infection rates, lifting our current restrictions in the near-term may triple the number of North Carolinians who become infected and may overwhelm our ability to provide acute care to the most serious cases, leading to a spike in the fatality rate,” Jackson said.