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We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases near 985,000
At least 984,950 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 12,801 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 699 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, down from 974 the day before.
Eleven additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Tuesday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 968 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Tuesday, up from 955 the day before.
As of Sunday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 50% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 44.8% are fully vaccinated.
Fauci answers questions from readers
McClatchy reporter Brian Murphy asked Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Cameron Webb, a member of President Joe Biden’s coronavirus response team, about a dozen questions about the pandemic during a question-and-answer session.
During the interview, Fauci and Webb answered everything from how to convince patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine to how many people should be vaccinated before the statewide mask mandate is lifted.
“There’s one thing that we absolutely are certain of: That the more people that get vaccinated, the less and less infection you’re going to have in the community,” Fauci said in response to the latter question. “That’s an incontrovertible, an absolutely slam dunk fact.”
A transcript of the conversation edited for clarity is available here.
Cohen to throw first pitch at Durham Bulls’ season opener
Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, is set to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday.
The minor league baseball team is set to recognize Triangle medical professionals during the game against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Dubbed “Healthcare Superhero Night,”the game is the Bulls’ home opener.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Cohen and Gov. Roy Cooper have given updates about the state’s health metrics at news conferences.
More COVID relief could be coming for NC parents
The draft of a new proposed House bill calls for North Carolina parents to get more federal COVID-19 relief money.
The preliminary GOP plan, called Student Success Program, would give parents $1,000 to $3,000 to use on tools to help their children avoid coronavirus-related learning loss, The News & Observer reported.
The money would be available by Aug. 16 and would have to be spent by Sept. 1, 2022, according to the draft of the bill. The document said $170 million in program funding would come from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
Details about the program could change before the draft becomes a bill.
Earlier in the pandemic, qualifying North Carolina parents received $335 checks through the Extra Credit Grants program.
Pfizer vaccine cleared for use in teens
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine on Monday to allow children ages 12 to 15 to receive it.
Previously, only people 16 and older were allowed to get the vaccine.
The FDA’s move followed a late stage trial that showed the shot reduced risk of coronavirus infection in children 12 to 15 years old by 100%, meaning no vaccinated kids were infected, McClatchy News reported.
In Mecklenburg County, The Charlotte Observer reported the Pfizer vaccine will be available by appointment and for walk-ins at Atrium Health, Novant Health and Mecklenburg County Public Health. That includes the Bojangles Coliseum vaccine clinic closing May 22 and StarMed Healthcare locations across Charlotte.
A third of Mecklenburg is fully vaccinated
State numbers show more than one-third of Mecklenburg County residents are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. But health experts say herd immunity may still be an unlikely feat.
At least 34.4% of residents in the county were fully vaccinated as of Monday, The Charlotte Observer reported, and 41.6% were partially vaccinated. While the threshold for herd immunity is likely higher than two-thirds, Gov. Roy Cooper has said that’s the benchmark he wants the state to hit before he lifts the mask mandate.
Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said last week that they aren’t focusing on herd immunity but “just getting people vaccinated as quickly as possible.”
Two inmates at NC prison die due to COVID-19
Two people in the North Carolina prison system have died due to complications associated with COVID-19, officials said Monday.
One man in his mid-30s died Friday at Central Prison after testing positive on April 28. The second, a man in his early 50s, died Saturday at Caledonia Correctional Institution in Halifax County after testing positive on March 21, The News & Observer reported.
Department of Public Safety officials said both men had pre-existing medical conditions.
“We are working hard in our ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offenders is our top priority,” Todd Ishee, state commissioner of prisons, said in a press release. “We strongly encourage all offenders to elect to be vaccinated. It’s very important.”
Carowinds delays reopening water park
Carowinds amusement park in Charlotte won’t open its water park until June 12 — two weeks later than initially planned — because of a worker shortage.
Carolina Harbor, the 26-acre water park at Carowinds, was scheduled to open May 29 along with the rest of the park, The Charlotte Observer reported. But the amusement park has struggled to hire new employees and announced last month it would offer a $500 bonus to seasonal hires.
“As we’re seeing across a wide range of industries, the availability of labor has been a challenge,” Carowinds spokeswoman Lisa Stryker told the Observer on Monday. “In response to the hiring challenge, we have ramped up recruiting efforts and taken steps to ensure we are providing competitive wages and benefits.”