COVID vaccine live updates: Here’s what to know in North Carolina on May 18

·3 min read

We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

Cases surpass 991,000

At least 991,956 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,891 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 688 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, down from 864 on Sunday.

Twenty-nine additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Monday. 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 904 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus on Friday, the latest day for which data is available.

As of Saturday, 4.7% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 51% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 46.4% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

Cooper says keeping mask mandate for unvaccinated people not feasible

Gov. Roy Cooper hosted an outdoor, in-person bill signing Monday in which he answered questions about the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.

Cooper lifted the statewide mask mandate last week following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He told reporters Monday the CDC’s decision was “rather sudden” but backed by research, The News & Observer reported.

“When the CDC did that, then when you have state governors who are in charge of mandatory enforcement of violations, it makes it difficult to say that everybody should have a mask or that they have some rule under law that only people who are unvaccinated have to wear a mask,” he said. “That just was not feasible.”

He also said unvaccinated people should continue wearing masks and reminded everyone that face coverings are still required at schools, hospitals, prisons, child care centers, homeless shelters and on public transit.

Duke working on vaccine to prevent future coronavirus pandemics

Researchers at Duke University are developing a vaccine that would protect against multiple strains of coronaviruses.

The vaccine was developed at Duke’s Human Vaccine Institute and shows the immune system 24 copies of a specific part of the virus’ spike protein that attaches to the human cells, The News & Observer reported. Another substance then helps create antibodies that attack that part of the virus.

Dr. Kevin Saunders, the Human Vaccine Institute’s director of research, said it’s similar to Velcro.

“So if you think of one hook and loop, that’s a pretty weak interaction. But if you can put one hook and loop together multiple times in multiple copies, that becomes a really strong interaction,” Saunders said.

Researchers tested the vaccine on macaque monkeys and found it “provides total protection against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” according to The N&O.

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