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Mecklenburg coronavirus cases top 1,000. Daily reports of new cases fluctuate

The coronavirus outbreak passed a grim milestone in Mecklenburg County on Wednesday, topping 1,000 positive tests for COVID-19, the disease that so far has killed 19 people in the county.

County health officials reported 1,052 cases, up 59 from the previous day after only 18 new cases were reported Tuesday. Three new deaths were also reported.

Despite the sharp rise in reported cases Wednesday, state and Charlotte News local health officials say the rate at which the virus spreads is slowing as the effects of social distancing take hold.

“We’re flattening the curve and fewer people are getting sick at the same time,” Secretary Mandy Cohen of the state Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday.

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Statewide, 5,123 cases and 117 deaths have been reported, DHHS said Wednesday. The number of North Carolinians hospitalized due to coronavirus rose to 431, after dropping in two of the previous three days.

The number of Mecklenburg cases reported has fluctuated in recent days, as the difference between the Tuesday and Wednesday totals illustrate. Wednesday’s higher totals might include a backlog of cases after a slowdown in testing over Easter weekend.

“You can see a little bit of a slowing at the top of the graph,” public health director Gibbie Harris said Tuesday about daily totals. “Part of that, we believe, is an artifact of testing. There was reduced testing over the holiday weekend and therefore a reduced number of positives coming in at this point.”

Health officials add that the totals are only snapshots, since many people who have COVID-19 have not been tested.

Easing away from restrictions that have shuttered businesses and thrown hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians out of work will happen slowly, Gov. Roy Cooper told reporters Wednesday.

Cooper laid out three criteria: Increased testing to detect who’s sick Press Release Distribution Service In Charlotte with the virus and who has recovered from it; greatly expanded contact tracing to identify where and with whom infected people have been; and positive trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

Instead of a return to normal that happens as quickly as clicking on a light, the governor said, “think of it as a dimmer switch” that gradually brightens.

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