We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Case count tops 941,000
At least 941,218 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,359 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,434 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 2,359 the day before.
Thirty-four additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Thursday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them, and the state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 1,020 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday, down from 1,047 on Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.1% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials have said 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
More than 2.6 million people in North Carolina have been fully vaccinated. That includes almost one-third of the state’s adult population and about one-quarter of all North Carolinians, health officials said.
Experts weigh in as Cooper expected to give Fourth of July outlook
North Carolina should continue its COVID-19 vaccination rate if the state wants activities to become safer by the Fourth of July, health experts said.
But coronavirus cases could surge if people aren’t cautious as new variants spread, The News & Observer reported Thursday.
The medical professionals weighed in as Gov. Roy Cooper is soon expected to share a COVID-19 outlook for the time leading up to Independence Day.
“We need to continue to be careful and responsible,” Cooper said last week. “I know that as summer approaches, many people are curious about how things will change and what to expect.”
Johnson & Johnson pause leaves Charlotte providers scrambling
Charlotte-area providers are working to ensure everyone has access to a COVID-19 vaccine after federal officials recommended pausing Johnson & Johnson doses.
The vaccine, which requires one shot and doesn’t need ultra-cold storage, was seen as an option to help fight the coronavirus in marginalized communities, The Charlotte Observer reported Thursday.
Now, officials said Mecklenburg County residents who are homebound and people visiting some vaccination sites can receive Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require two shots.
”There is a subset of the population that was really hoping for J&J, where they were delaying getting vaccinated for this vaccine especially,” said Dr. Arin Piramzadian, chief medical officer for StarMed. “It breaks my heart that people are not getting vaccinated because of this.”
Federal officials called for the pause after six people who received Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the United States developed rare blood clots. More than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been given nationwide, data show.
NC colleges offering perks for vaccinated students
Some North Carolina universities are encouraging students to get COVID-19 vaccines with chances to win books, housing and other perks.
Colleges also are giving out freebies at vaccination sites or have clinics on their campuses, The News & Observer reported Thursday.
“Textbooks and meal plans and a place to live are some of those foundational expenses that our students have to juggle,” said Julia Jackson-Newsom, associate vice chancellor for strategy and policy at UNC Greensboro. “We thought maybe if we can offer to put them in the hat for some help, that would be particularly likely to motivate them to get vaccinated.”
Last week, Duke University announced it would require COVID-19 vaccines for anyone who planned to enroll this fall, though religious and medical exemptions will be allowed.
Meanwhile, the UNC System has encouraged students to get the vaccine but hasn’t made it mandatory.