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Cornelius News

Mecklenburg far outpaces similar-sized Wake in COVID-19 cases

US Air Force Graphic by Rosario “Charo” Gutierrez

April 13. By Dave Yochum. Mecklenburg County is the statewide epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis with 970 diagnosed cases—more than twice as many as Wake County. Both counties have roughly the same population—1.1 million according to the US Census Bureau.

North Carolina has at least 4,816 reported cases as of this morning, and 86 deaths, based on state and county health departments.

Mecklenburg County is reporting 12 deaths; Wake County, none.

The city of Charlotte is larger than Raleigh, with roughly 826,000 residents, compared to Raleigh’s 449,000. Since social distancing and population density could logically go hand in hand, it stands to reason that Charlotte and Mecklenburg have more COVID-19 cases than Raleigh and Wake County.

Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said Mecklenburg County has a younger, more active, denser population concentration than Wake.

“They also tend to travel throughout the community more frequently than Wake residents, which may also contribute to faster community spread,” Harris said.

March 14 party in Cornelius

Observers are still expressing concerns about St. Patrick’s Day parties that were held March 14 in Cornelius and elsewhere.

“Many younger people were affected in Charlotte. Likely at those parties,” one official said.

Charlotte: International gateway

Our airport attracts many residents to Charlotte who travel internationally on a regular basis. Charlotte Douglas International Airport — a major hub for American Airlines — is home to the country’s sixth busiest airport. Passenger traffic here is three times greater than Raleigh.

“That likely made a difference in the beginning of residents testing positive for the virus,” says Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham.

Testing plays a factor

It’s unclear how testing is proceeding in Wake County. “Waiting 10 days for a result isn’t particularly helpful when that person can easily infect dozens more while results are pending,” said NC Sen. Jeff Jackson.


According to NCDHHS statistics, 45 percent of COVID-19 cases are people between the ages of 18 and 49. Only 8 percent of deaths reflect people between 18 and 49.

Mecklenburg’s stay-at-home order began March 26, restricting residents to “essential” activities, such as buying groceries and caring for loved ones.

County Manager Dena Diorio announced the directive on March 24, when there were 143 known cases in Mecklenburg.

The total is expected to exceed 1,000 tomorrow.

Click here for an easy way to compare Charlotte and Raleigh.