We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Case count surpasses 943,000
At least 943,693 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,387 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,475 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 2,434 the day before.
Twenty-eight additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday. 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 1,064 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 1,020 on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 5.5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials have said 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Edgecombe County was the only red county in the state’s tiered COVID-19 county alert system as of Friday, indicating it has the most severe spread. There were no red counties at the last update two weeks ago, The News & Observer reported.
More than 2.7 million people in North Carolina have been fully vaccinated.
The state health department did not update its COVID-19 dashboard Saturday and will not update it Sunday. New numbers are released Monday through Friday.
Novant to open third vaccine site in Charlotte area
Novant Health will open a third COVID-19 vaccination clinic in the Charlotte area on Monday.
The clinic will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 17220 Northcross Drive, Suite 110 in Huntersville, the hospital system says.
Novant says it will be able to vaccinate up to 500 people a day at the new site, depending on supply.
The clinics typically offer vaccines by appointment only and anyone age 16 and up can sign up for an appointment with Novant Health through MyChart.
The hospital system also offers a clinic 6070 E. Independence Blvd., which is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, and at 3149 Freedom Drive, which is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Franklin Graham criticized for saying Jesus would get vaccine
Evangelist Franklin Graham is still facing criticism from some of his Facebook followers weeks after saying Jesus would have supported getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Graham said he concluded Jesus would have supported getting all types of vaccines based on the parable of the Good Samaritan and said no one should have to endure what some of his staff and their families went through after contracting the virus.
“Vaccines have worked for polio, smallpox, measles, the flu and so many other deadly illnesses — why not for this virus?” he posted last month.
But some of his followers were angry about his post.
“Satanic sell out,” a woman posted.
“I WILL NOT GET THE VACCINE!!!” another woman posted. “God knew when I was conceived when and how I was to die.”
Others supported his comments. One woman posted: “God gave us a blessing and that blessing is the vaccine.”
Regal postpones reopening date
The Regal movie theater chain pushed back its planned reopening date in North Carolina to April 23 after shutting down during the coronavirus pandemic.
Regal planned to reopen in the Charlotte area on Friday, but an update on the chain’s website shows that date is now a week later than initially scheduled, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“Within the last month, the opening date was pushed a week to April 23 with several of our theaters opening dates following suit with the change,” Regal spokesman Richard Grover said Friday.
State emergency management leader to retire
Mike Sprayberry, who has been the executive director of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management since 2013, announced Friday he is retiring.
Sprayberry has frequently appeared alongside Gov. Roy Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen during coronavirus briefings throughout the last year, The News & Observer reported.
He was known for repeating a similar refrain at each briefing: “As always, don’t forget to look out for your family, friends and neighbors.”
The state public safety department said Sprayberry will retire Aug. 1 after more than 42 years.
COVID long-hauler writes her own obituary
A Charlotte woman gained attention online after writing her own obituary before she died on March 12 from complications related to “long haul” symptoms from the coronavirus.
Leiah Jones was “33-and-a-half years young” when she died, according to her obituary.
“Unfortunately, those like me may or may not survive the aftermath. I, hopefully, am in the minority of those numbers,” she wrote.
Jones, who loved to cook, considered herself “an attentive caregiver to loved ones,” The Charlotte Observer reported. In her obituary, she urged others to remember to care for the COVID-19 “long-haulers” and stay educated about the virus, saying “please pray and support the ‘long haulers.’”