COVID vaccine live updates: Here’s what to know in North Carolina on Sept. 25

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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.

96 additional deaths reported

At least 1,368,743 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 16,108 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday reported 5,805 new COVID-19 cases, down from 5,953 the day before.

Ninety-six additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday. State health officials don’t specify the dates on which newly reported deaths occurred.

At least 3,359 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19, including 895 adult patients who are being treated in intensive care units, health officials said.

On Wednesday, the latest date with available information, 8.6% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 69% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 64% have been fully vaccinated. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.

Mecklenburg to expand booster shot access

Mecklenburg County Public Health said it will be prepared to offer COVID-19 vaccine booster shots starting Monday.

The vaccine will be available to eligible people at the county’s vaccination clinics, The Charlotte Observer reported.

While a U.S Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended a third Pfizer shot for people ages 65 and older and those at high risk for getting seriously sick, the CDC director recommended front-line workers also get the additional dose.

Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris didn’t immediately share if the county is giving shots to front-line workers but said: “We are awaiting more clinical guidance and will put that information out as soon as possible.”

Wake elementary teacher dies of COVID

A North Carolina fourth-grade teacher has died after contracting COVID-19.

Merridith Mongone, a mother of four who taught at Scotts Ridge Elementary School in Apex, had been hospitalized after she became sick in early August.

“She will be greatly missed by the staff, students, and Scotts Ridge community and our hearts go out to her friends and family,” the school said Thursday in a letter to families.

Mongone had worked for the Wake County district since 2018, and her school encouraged parents to monitor their children after the loss, The News & Observer reported.

Christi Vereckey, a friend, said that while she was alive, Mongone wished she had gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

Raleigh venue requiring vaccinations, COVID tests for some shows

A Raleigh entertainment venue will require some event attendees to be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The new rule starts Oct. 1 and applies to people attending events for all resident companies at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Those include the Carolina Ballet, North Carolina Opera, North Carolina Symphony, North Carolina Theatre and PineCone, The News & Observer reported Friday.

The Duke Energy Center said it’s joining other Triangle venues in requiring coronavirus vaccines or tests “in order to ensure a safe return to live, indoor performances and productions this fall.”

Other performers may have different rules, so attendees are encouraged to check for them online. Masks are required for all shows, and the venue said it’s providing hand sanitizer and allowing for air circulation, among other precautions.

School district encouraged by latest COVID numbers

A Charlotte-area school district that experienced an alarming rise in COVID cases and quarantines in August finally got a dose of encouraging news, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Over the past week, Iredell-Statesville Schools saw a “continued reduction of positive cases, secondary spread within the schools, and the number of quarantined students,” spokeswoman Boen Nutting said in releasing the week’s COVID-19 data for the district.

“Since Sept. 2, we have recorded a steady downward trend in the number of students who have had to quarantine as a result of close contact,” Nutting said. ”This is important, as our priority is to serve students in a face-to-face capacity.”

On Friday, Sept. 3, the school district reported that active COVID cases quadrupled that week from the previous week, from 69 to 286, The Charlotte Observer reported at the time. Of the total, 260 were students..

The number of ISS students quarantined because of close contact with someone who tested positive for the disease skyrocketed to 2,476 that week from 583 the previous week.

Six schools in the district were on temporary remote learning due to COVID-19 spread.

For the week of Sept. 17-23, 85 students tested positive and 739 were quarantined, data released Friday showed.

COVID fails to deter longtime mountain festival

A longtime mountain food festival lived on this weekend despite COVID-19, WLOS reported.

Organizers of the annual Asheville Greek Festival found an alternative to crowds packing Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church: Drive-thru.

Baklava is a favorite dessert at the annual Asheville Greek Festival.
Baklava is a favorite dessert at the annual Asheville Greek Festival.

The festival has taken place for more than 30 years, according to its website. The 2021 version started on Friday and continued on Saturday.

While the church couldn’t host the festival “in our usual style because of the ongoing pandemic,” members still wanted “to share the food you love.”

‘The Daily Show’ features anti-mask rally in NC

A protest against masks in North Carolina was featured on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.”

The video, which aired on Thursday, shows Johnston County rally attendees complaining about face coverings as they marched to a Board of Education meeting on Sept. 14.

During the pandemic, health experts have urged people to wear face masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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