Afternoon Observer | Intense hurricane season expected, NC State researchers say + Latest COVID info by Charlotte ZIP code

Kristen Kornbluth
·4 min read

Happy Monday, Charlotte. Kristen here, offering a handy reminder for those of you who haven’t gotten vaccinated — if you live in North Carolina and you’re above the age of 16, you are eligible to get a COVID vaccine. You might be wondering, “Where can I get mine?” Luckily for you, the Observer’s Hannah Smoot has compiled an often-updated guide to getting a shot in Mecklenburg County. From Novant Health to Harris Teeter to CVS, you have plenty of options around the area.

Now, let’s get into today’s headlines:

1. Get ready for another active hurricane season, NC State experts say

An satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Iota as it makes its way toward Central America on Nov. 16, 2020. It became 2020’s strongest hurricane of 2020 in November, reaching a Category 5.
An satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Iota as it makes its way toward Central America on Nov. 16, 2020. It became 2020’s strongest hurricane of 2020 in November, reaching a Category 5.

North Carolina State University researchers say this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which starts June 1 and runs until Nov. 30, will be another active one.

Here’s what to know:

  • Researchers expect 15 to 18 named storms in the Atlantic basin during the 2021 season.

  • There were an average of 11 named storms each year in the Atlantic between 1951 and 2020.

  • 7 to 9 of this year’s storms could become hurricanes, researchers say.

Last year’s season saw a whopping 30 named storms in the Atlantic. 13 of those were hurricanes, and 6 were major hurricanes. That was the highest amount of named storms of record, and the second-highest number of hurricanes on record, according to NOAA.

2. How is Charlotte faring in COVID? Latest ZIP code map

Vaccination rates continue to rise across Mecklenburg County, but according to the most recent data from the county, coronavirus conditions are worsening in the area. Important to note: Mecklenburg typically releases ZIP code-level data weekly, and the rate is based on a 14-day average.

The details:

  • Mecklenburg’s testing positivity rate rose to 7.7% over the past week, an increase over the last 14 days.

  • Average daily COVID hospitalizations increased to 142, a 30% increase over the last 14 days.

  • Between April 1 and April 14, Mecklenburg logged roughly 302 new cases for every 100,000 residents. That rate is slightly higher than in recent weeks, as reported by the Observer’s Alison Kuznitz.

  • According to our News & Observer colleague Ben Sessoms, the weekly percent positive rate of COVID-19 tests in North Carolina is the highest it’s been in two months.

3. What are the odds that summer shows will actually happen?

Imagine packing into a concert venue with thousands of screaming people. Shoulder-to-shoulder with the people around you, you might feel some anxiety. given the past year of social distancing. That worry might even be enough to keep you from attending.

Though COVID numbers could decrease by the time summer shows roll around, crowds might not be ready to attend. With this in mind, in our latest subscriber exclusive, Théoden Janes considers the odds that planned summer shows will actually happen. Spoiler: Charlotte concert fans might be bummed by Janes’ predictions.

How can we do our part to make summer events more likely? As Janes urges, “Get vaccinated, do your part to slow or stop the spread of the virus by wearing a mask and socially distancing, and ... support the artists you like by buying tickets now, as a way to show them that you’re ready if they are.”

4. Carowinds is coming back after a missed 2020 season

Fury 325. Carowinds, the popular theme park on the North Carolina-South Carolina line, is tentatively scheduled to reopen July 27, North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said Tuesday.
Fury 325. Carowinds, the popular theme park on the North Carolina-South Carolina line, is tentatively scheduled to reopen July 27, North Carolina Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said Tuesday.

Ready to ride some roller coasters? Carowinds is opening the park back up after a missed 2020 season. The theme park will host a “Welcome Back Weekend” for new and old season passholders alike to celebrate the reopening.

The details, from the Herald’s Tobie Perkins:

  • The welcome back event will be on May 15 and 16 from noon until 6 p.m.

  • Tickets will go on sale April 29.

  • The park’s official reopening day is May 22.

5. The latest on all things Charlotte FC

Charlotte FC, the Queen City’s new professional soccer team, will debut next year, and president Nick Kelly has had his hands full getting everything ready for launch. Meanwhile, Charlotte soccer fans have had questions about how everything will work. In this subscriber exclusive, Observer reporter Alex Andrejev sat down with Kelly to discuss some burning questions about the future of Charlotte’s soccer club.

Topics touched on include:

  • What’s the latest on a team HQ?

  • How does the team plan to fill seats in the stadium?

  • How will broadcasts be produced?

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