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Where are COVID-19 cases concentrated in Charlotte? Here’s the latest ZIP code info.

 Mecklenburg County’s coronavirus caseload has been sharply rising since mid-October.

Despite record-high demand for COVID-19 tests locally before Thanksgiving, health experts expect an influx of infections within the next two weeks tied to family gatherings around the holiday.

The county’s cumulative case total — likely a vast under-count, according to Mecklenburg Public Health — surpassed 44,400 on Wednesday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported. That translates into a rate of 4,001 infections for every 100,000 residents.

Although the positivity rate in and around Charlotte has steadily increased recently, the virus has been spreading far faster this fall in rural areas of North Carolina.

In Mecklenburg ZIP codes, just eight have recorded below-county-average case rates between March and November, the most recent data show

Seven ZIP codes were above 600 cases for every 100,000 residents — with the three highest in uptown, South End/Dilworth, and Myers Park. Infections there are fueled by “transient” residents, including university students and people experiencing homelessness, Deputy Public Health Director Raynard Washington told the Observer. And they’re also tied to outbreaks at congregate living settings, like the Mecklenburg County Detention Center that has 81 total cases, according to outbreak data released Tuesday.

Washington has said the more granular data helps officials allocate resources, like mobile COVID-19 testing units.

As the Observer reported previously with mapped data on positivity rates by ZIP codes in Mecklenburg, the pandemic has an ongoing disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities — including among Black and brown residents who work frontline jobs and are at increased risk of contracting the virus. Those communities also face limited access to healthcare, with underlying chronic illnesses causing more severe COVID-19 illnesses.

COVID-19 remains widespread in Mecklenburg, meaning all residents should wear face masks, practice social distancing, and follow other coronavirus safeguards.

Health officials reported eight coronavirus-related deaths among county residents Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 464. That appears to be Mecklenburg’s third-highest single-day increase in fatalities, with the steepest jump of 10 deaths recorded on Sept. 8.

A lower case rate (and lower positivity rate) indicates less prevalence of the virus in certain neighborhoods — yet that doesn’t eliminate people’s risk of becoming infected. The data shows where infected people live but doesn’t indicate where there was close contact or possible exposures. Close contact and prolonged exposure in public spaces — such as shopping, going to work or seeing friends and family — are known risk-factors, which means even those who live in neighborhoods with fewer infectious people can still become sick.

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