BREAKING: Curve flattening, new park restrictions, smaller field hospital

Today is Tuesday, April 7, 2020, and we’re coming to you with HOT BREAKING NEWS.

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- Large parks and greenways to be walk-in only

- Atrium and Novant want 600-bed field hospital, down from 3,000 bed request five days ago

- Social distancing ‘has begun to flatten the curve slightly’; not ‘out of the woods yet’

by Tony Mecia

Mecklenburg County plans to close the parking gates to its larger parks and greenways, County Manager Dena Diorio said Tuesday, which she called the “final step before we take aggressive action to close our parks and greenways.”

She also said Atrium Health and Novant Health, which had requested a 3,000-bed field hospital at UNC Charlotte last Thursday, have now revised their request and instead need one that’s only 600 beds near uptown. The Army Corps of Engineers would build the field hospital, which would be staffed and supplied by the hospitals, Diorio said.

Curve flattening: In an update to county commissioners, Diorio said the revised request for a smaller field hospital resulted from good work by the hospitals to create more bed space. She also said: “It appears the social distancing taking place to date in the county has begun to flatten the curve slightly. That does not mean we are out of the woods yet.”

The seemingly contradictory moves — tighter restrictions at parks, work on a much smaller field hospital — come as the number of new cases in Mecklenburg and North Carolina continues to grow.

County officials have been frustrated that people at parks have seemed not to care about being closer than six feet from each other.

At the same time, new national models have seemed to show that the number of deaths in North Carolina will be much lower than earlier forecasts. A University of Washington forecast that had called for 2,400 deaths in the state less than two weeks ago was revised a few days ago to say the number would be more like 600. North Carolina’s infection rate is one of the lowest in the country.

The park restrictions, Diorio said, would apply to about 60 locations that she didn’t name. The idea is that the parks and greenways affected would be open to walk-ins but would be less crowded than usual because people could not drive and park there.

“The parks will turn into walk-in amenities only,” she said. That has been an approach taken elsewhere, such as in California and in beaches on the South Carolina coast.

County health director Gibbie Harris said: “We are seeing some slight evidence that the order is having some effect in our community. The continuation of this order is critical.”


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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith