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'That is not acceptable' | Mecklenburg County announces youngest COVID-19 death so far in pandemic

The Mecklenburg County Health Department said a 22-year-old with underlying health conditions died of COVID-19 Tuesday.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris announced Wednesday the county saw its youngest COVID-19 death so far in the pandemic this week.

"We had a 22-year-old die of COVID-19 in our community,” Harris said in a news conference Wednesday morning. “That is not acceptable."

Few details were provided about the young adult, but Harris said the person did have underlying health conditions.

The news comes as Mecklenburg County issued a directive for the next three weeks, which strongly recommends people only leave home for essential activities.

“The main emphasis from a public health perspective right now is to try to get this virus under control,” Harris added.

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The latest Mecklenburg County data shows people ages 20 to 39 years old make up the largest percentage of COVIDlf-19 cases at 42.6%. However, this age bracket only represents 2.4% of community deaths.

People ages 60 and older make up the smallest percentage of COVID-19 cases in Mecklenburg County at 13.6% but are contributing to the highest percentage of deaths. Those in the 60 and older age bracket make up 96.4% of COVID-19 deaths connected to long-term care facilities and 76.7% of community deaths.

Jenn Park, a healthy 33-year-old with no underlying conditions, said she started experiencing COVID-like symptoms at the end of June 2020.

"It was very similar to the flu,” Park said. “Previously, I'd never had the flu, and what I imagine my symptoms were, were very flu-like—fatigue, fever, aches, lack of energy."

Park said she experienced a wide array of symptoms over a week and a half, even having trouble breathing at points. She said she has tested positive for the COVID-19 antibodies three times since June.

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Even though she feels that she has fully recovered with no side effects, Park said she would urge other people in the younger age bracket to be cautious if diagnosed and be upfront with close contacts about test results.

"It would be tragic for you to not disclose your COVID status and pass it on to someone who passes it on to someone who doesn't survive,” Park added.

Uday Sheth, a 30-year-old with no underlying conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 in early December.

"I lost my sense of taste. That was my indicator,” Sheth said. “I was like, alright, I got Covid, and then the test results just clarified that a hundred percent."

Sheth said his biggest worry was spreading it to his parents. He said he would encourage others who are positive to be responsible, wear a mask, and protect those around them.

"I just wanted to take all precautions,” Sheth said. “I quarantined for over 14 days. The minimum requirement was for 10, but I probably did about 18 just to be safe. The main thing, I didn't want to spread it to anyone."

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