We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
More than 2,600 new cases reported
At least 1,041,609 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 13,606 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,633 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, up from 1,603 on Tuesday.
Sixteen additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Wednesday. Deaths don’t necessarily occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as more information becomes available.
At least 1,091 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, up from 1,031 the day before.
As of Monday, the latest day available, 10.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 61% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 57% have been fully vaccinated. State health officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
Mecklenburg health director says residents should wear face masks
Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Wednesday that all residents regardless of vaccination status should wear face masks indoors again.
She didn’t issue a mask mandate but said she wants the public to follow the updated CDC recommendations, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“Masking is still important in our community,” Harris said.
Berger calls CDC recommendations ‘guidance to ignore’
Senate Leader Phil Berger said the CDC’s latest recommendations for mask-wearing is “guidance to ignore” in a fundraising email Wednesday.
Berger also said the guidelines aren’t based on science but “a method by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the media and liberals to control the American people,” The News & Observer reported.
NC GOP Senate Caucus Political Leader Dylan Watts told The N&O the email subject line, “CDC issues new guidelines to ignore,” was a mistake.
“I will say that it shouldn’t say go ignore the advice,” Watts said. “I think the headline probably should have said CDC issued new guidelines; people will ignore it.”
The updated guidance came as the delta variant gains prominence in the U.S., leading to spikes in the number of cases and deaths across the country. The variant has been found to be more transmissible than other versions of the virus, and in some rare cases, causes breakthrough infections in vaccinated people.
Charlotte businesses react to wearing masks indoors again
Some businesses in Mecklenburg County, where the transmission rate of COVID-19 is considered high, are opposed to the new CDC recommendations for vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in such conditions.
“At this point it’s utterly ridiculous,” Hive Fitness co-owner Rob Jenkins told The Charlotte Observer.
He said the gym didn’t previously enforce the mask mandate with its members because, “It’s not our place to tell them to wear them.”
The Evening Muse in NoDa, meanwhile, said it will require all staff, guests and performers to wear masks, effective immediately.
“We continue to strongly urge everyone to get fully vaccinated so that we can hopefully get to the end of this global pandemic,” the music venue said on its Facebook page.
Triangle counties split on whether face mask is required
Guidance for face mask wearing in the Triangle is split under the latest federal commendations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 wear a face mask indoors in areas with high transmission rates. That would include Wake, Chatham, Lee, Harnett and Johnston counties, which have substantial or high levels of community spread, The News & Observer reported.
Durham and Orange counties, meanwhile, are classified as having moderate spread.
Across North Carolina, all but 21 counties have high or substantial community spread, according to The N&O. But experts say transmission rates can change quickly.
“If you’re not in that high or extreme risk category according to the CDC now, you may well be within the next week,” Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, said. “That’s the kind of acceleration that we’re seeing.”
Researchers take extra precautions testing vaccines on kids
Researchers currently testing COVID-19 vaccines on children are having to take extra precautionary measures given that they are a “vulnerable population.”
Emmanuel “Chip” Walter, professor in the department of pediatrics at Duke University and chief medical officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, told The News & Observer kids can’t give consent and a parent must be involved in trials. Children tend to be shorter and weigh less, meaning they might need a different dose.
Researchers also don’t know if the side effects will be the same in children.
“Children are generally more likely to develop a fever when they get an infection, and when they get fevers, the temperature elevations are usually higher than those in adults,” Walter said.
Panthers quarterback will be fully vaccinated
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, a source with direct knowledge of his decision told The Charlotte Observer.
Darnold received his second shot July 16, meaning he will be fully vaccinated July 30. He said in June that he isn’t vaccinated and wanted to look into it more, The Observer reported.
“It’s everyone’s choice whether they want to get vaccinated or not,” he said at the time. “So, that’s really all I got on it. I don’t want to go too into detail. ... I’m just staying by myself right now. I don’t have a family or anything like that ... I’m gonna evaluate that on my own and make the best decision that I feel like, again, is the best for myself.”
Duke to require face masks inside most buildings
Duke University is set to require that face masks be worn in most buildings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We make this move now based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Duke’s own infectious disease experts in hopes of containing potential outbreaks that may limit our ability to continue other activities during the fall semester,” the university said in a letter.
The private school in Durham made the decision after federal health officials on Tuesday shared new guidance that calls for even vaccinated Americans wear masks inside if they’re in places where transmission of the virus is “substantial” or “high.”
Duke’s new mask rule goes into effect Friday, ahead of the start of the semester in August. Campus housing will be exempt from the requirement due to a lower risk of exposure, the university said.