May 25, 2021 - COVID

COVID trends continue to improve since N.C. lifted most restrictions

masks, covid, mask mandate, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, north carolina

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s been just over a week since COVID-related restrictions were lifted, including the mask mandate, and metrics have remained encouraging.

Why it matters: Spikes in COVID metrics have been common over the last year after new batches of restrictions were lifted, but so far that hasn’t been the case with the mask mandate. The key difference between now and then is the availability of vaccines.

By the numbers: Hospitalizations, daily case counts and the percentage of positive cases have been trending downward for a few months. As of May 24, here’s where the data stands:

  • COVID hospitalizations, one of the most important metrics, are down to 680 people statewide, and 121 people in Mecklenburg County.
  • The percentage of positive cases is 3.7% statewide, and 3.8% in the county.
  • Vaccinations have slowed down statewide. About 52% of state residents are at least partially vaccinated, compared to 44% of Mecklenburg County residents.
COVID hospitalizations May NC

Zoom out: These trends line up with COVID-19 numbers across the country. Last week COVID cases nationwide dropped by 20% from the week before. In North Carolina specifically, cases dropped 21%.

What to watch: We’re only about a week out from the indoor mask mandate being lifted, so an uptick in trends is still possible, especially if unvaccinated people start going without masks.

  • Plus, only about a third of our county is at least partially vaccinated.

Be smart: It’s still recommended that everyone wear a mask in crowded spaces, and that unvaccinated people wear a mask in public spaces.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that 32% of Mecklenburg County residents were at least partially vaccinated, but that figure only includes N.C. providers. The full percentage including all vaccination programs is 44%.

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