Mecklenburg health officials expected to vote on potential mask mandate policy changes next week –

Health Director Gibbie Harris said Charlotte’s COVID-19 numbers are moving in the right direction but still more people must be vaccinated

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County health officials said despite COVID-19 cases going down, those numbers should stay down for a significant amount of time before it is safe to ease up on guidelines, including the county’s indoor mask mandate. 

Starting Monday, Nov. 1, Mecklenburg County workers will return to the office in person and they will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. The county said all employees can come back due to the drop in new COVID-19 infections. 

Health Director Gibbie Harris said masks can be removed if employees are seated at their cubicle or office alone but they must be worn if another person is present.

On Tuesday, the county will be discussing whether to alter the requirement that the percent positivity rate is less than 5% for two straight weeks instead of the one-month standard currently set in order to lift the indoor mask mandate. 

New data released by the health department Friday showed that the county’s positivity rate has dropped below 5% on Wednesday.  

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Harris said 68% of Mecklenburg County adults are vaccinated and numbers are going the right direction, they’re just not where they need to be for masks to be optional. 

“I anticipate before too much longer that we will be in a situation where we can reconsider and look at what we recommend for masking,” Harris said. “But at this point in time, even with 68% vaccinated, only a little over half of our 12- to 17-year-olds are vaccinated and our younger children aren’t vaccinated at all. They’re at risk on an ongoing basis because of that.”

Harris said she is hopeful vaccinations for kids under 12 could begin as early as Nov. 6 in Mecklenburg County. 

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