CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – As local health care systems continue to feel the strain from COVID-19, data shows Mecklenburg County may have hit its peak, and could soon start to plateau.

Daily case counts are beginning to slowly decline.

While numbers are still incredibly high in Mecklenburg County and the percent positive rate remains above thirty percent, there has been a drop in demand for testing in the last 48-72 hours.

“The positivity rate is now in the mid-30 percent range, so we are far from that five percent we need to get to,” said Dr. Sid Fletcher with Novant Health. “It has dropped some, but it’s still higher than it’s ever been at any point in the pandemic previous to this latest wave of the Omicron variant, so there’s a lot out there.”

Mecklenburg County is not out of the woods yet.

Positive case counts remain at several thousand a day and hospitals are still at over 95 percent capacity.

There’s currently a health care staffing shortage all across the U.S.

“There’s a reduced number of people in the workforce and our workers are like everyone else, they’re moms and dads and they’re out in the community,” said Dr. Sid Fletcher.  “Some have contracted illnesses and have been out.”

More than 93 percent of hospitalized people are either not vaccinated, or under-vaccinated. Well over 90 percent of patients on life support are not vaccinated.

“As has been throughout this entire pandemic, our hospitalizations and deaths continue to lag,” said Mecklenburg County Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington. “So it’s creating a strain for both of our healthcare systems.”

Although testing numbers are declining, local hospitals are not out of the woods and have put in a request to FEMA for assistance.

“We’re not out of this yet,” said Dr. Jim Hunter with Atrium Health. “That’s the message I really think the community needs to hear.”

There are more “at home” rapid tests currently being brought to Mecklenburg County.

Mass distribution events will take place Saturday, January 29, at North Mecklenburg High School and the Harper Campus of CPCC. Those will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Medical-grade masks will also be distributed. There will be a limit of four test kits per car. Local health officials say contact tracing efforts will be changing and shifting as well.