Duke basketball events at Cameron Indoor to require vaccine or negative COVID-19 test

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

4 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that 70 percent of North Carolinians age 18 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

"COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be our best tool for preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "Seventy percent of North Carolinians have sought out reliable information and decided to protect themselves and others with tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. If you're not vaccinated, it's not too late. Just don't wait."

3:40 p.m.
Duke University Athletics announced health and safety protocols for men's and women's basketball events at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season.

All guests and staff are required to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, which shows two dates for the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and one date for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Guests and staff who are exempt from or ineligible to receive the vaccine can still attend by showing a negative COVID-19 (antigen or PCR) test result within 72 hours of the game you plan to attend.

A test result must be in the form of written medical documentation (paper or electronic copy) and the documentation must include: test result, type of test, entity issuing the result, and the specimen collection date.

For those unable to complete a test prior to game day, a testing site operated by SafeSite will be available in Blue Devil Tower on game day. The rapid antigen test is $45, and all positive antigen tests will be confirmed with a PCR test for no additional charge.

Guests and staff can upload their vaccination card or negative test for each event at DukeCheckIn.com.

1:20 p.m.
Hospitals, nursing homes and adult care and hospice care facilities in North Carolina would be required to allow patient visits in a measure given final legislative approval on Wednesday.

The bill is the result of constituent complaints last year about family members being unable to visit loved ones in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate voted unanimously for the compromise measure, two weeks after the House voted for the bill.

The measure now heading to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk says visitations must be allowed to the extent that federal law permits. Compassionate care visits - such as when the patient's relative dies - also must be allowed. State health officials would issue a $500 fine against a health care facility that violates this policy and fails to fix the problem.

The bill, called the "No Patient Left Alone Act," marks the latest measure approved that responds to obstacles in visitor access that surfaced during the pandemic.

Cooper signed bills into law recently that would direct hospitals to let a clergy member visit a patient and tell health regulators to establish by next year visitation policies for nursing homes and adult care homes during declared emergencies.

11:55 a.m.
North Carolina has surpassed 17,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

3,781 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday.

The percent of positive tests in the state is at 6.4%.

2,514 are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.

11:40 a.m.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky and other top public health experts strongly urged everyone ages 6 months and older to get an annual flu shot.

According to newly released CDC data, about 52% of the US population got a flu vaccination last flu season - similar to the prior season. The CDC and other public health agencies are trying to get even more people vaccinated this year because experts are worried about a worse flu season this year because population immunity is low due to a mild flu season last year.

"We are preparing for the return of the flu this season. The low level of flu activity last season could set us up for a severe season this year," Walensky said. "It's doubly important this year to build up community immunity."

10:20 p.m.
Red Hat will join the list of companies requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Raleigh-based software company said Thursday that as a company that contracts for the U.S. government, it must meet the government's COVID-19 requirements.

"Red Hat supports the view that vaccination is the best way to contribute to ending the pandemic, and we are demonstrating our commitment to keeping our colleagues, customers, and communities safe," Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier said in a statement.

Red Hat said all employees must be fully vaccinated by November 29.

8:35 a.m.
Pfizer has asked the U.S. government to allow use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children ages 5 to 11--and if regulators agree, shots could begin within a matter of weeks.

Pfizer already had announced that a lower dose of its vaccine worked and appeared safe in a study of the youngsters.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Thursday officially filed its application with the Food and Drug Administration. FDA's advisers are scheduled to debate the evidence later this month.

6:20 a.m.
The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.

More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.

"These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed," one of the study's authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.

During 15 months of the nearly 19-month COVID-19 pandemic, more than 120,000 U.S. children lost a parent or grandparent who was a primary provider of financial support and care, the study found. Another 22,000 children experienced the death of a secondary caregiver - for example, a grandparent who provided housing but not a child's other basic needs.

In many instances, surviving parents or other relatives remained to provide for these children. But the researchers used the term "orphanhood" in their study as they attempted to estimate how many children's lives were upended.

Federal statistics are not yet available on how many U.S. children went into foster care last year. Researchers estimate COVID-19 drove a 15% increase in orphaned children.

An earlier study by different researchers estimated that roughly 40,000 U.S. children lost a parent to COVID-19 as of February 2021.

The two studies' findings are not inconsistent, said Ashton Verdery, an author of the earlier study. Verdery and his colleagues focused on a shorter time period than the new study. Verdery's group also focused only on deaths of parents, while the new paper also captured what happened to caregiving grandparents.

"It is very important to understand grandparental losses," said Verdery, a researcher at Penn State, in an email. "Many children live with grandparents," a living arrangement more common among certain racial groups.

About 32% of all kids who lost a primary caregiver were Hispanic and 26% were Black. Hispanic and Black Americans make up much smaller percentages of the population than that. White children accounted for 35% of the kids who lost primary caregivers, even though more than half of the population is white.

The differences were far more pronounced in some states. In California, 67% of the children who lost primary caregivers were Hispanic. In Mississippi, 57% of the children who lost primary caregivers were Black, the study found.
WEDNESDAY
4:59 p.m.

Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Brookdale Wake Forest, an assisted living and memory care facility at 611 Brook St. in Wake Forest.

This is the facility's third outbreak. The previous outbreaks occurred in January and May 2020. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people - residents or employees - testing positive for the virus.
12:45 p.m.
3,598 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Wednesday.

The percent of positive tests in the state is 9.2%.

2,586 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Hospitalizations have dropped 14 percent since two weeks ago.

There are currently 702 adult ICU COVID-19 patients.

133 more COVID-19 deaths were reported on Wednesday.

9:25 a.m.
More Americans have died from COVID-19 this year than from the virus in all of 2020, according to newly updated data from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 353,000 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since Jan. 1, compared with 352,000 COVID-19 deaths in the first 10 months of the pandemic.

In the last month, the U.S. has reported more than 47,000 deaths.

8:55 a.m.
AstraZeneca, the drugmaker that developed one of the first COVID-19 vaccines, has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of a first-of-a-kind antibody treatment to prevent the disease.

The Anglo-Swedish company said Tuesday that the treatment, known as AZD7442, would be the first long-acting antibody combination to receive an emergency authorization for COVID-19 prevention. If authorized, the drug would likely be limited to people with compromised immune systems who don't get sufficient protection from vaccination.

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8:30 a.m.
Washington state health authorities say a woman in her late 30s has died from a rare blood-clotting syndrome after receiving the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine.

Public Health Seattle & King County said Tuesday the woman was the fourth person in the United States to die from possible blood clotting issues following the J&J vaccine.

Three deaths were reported before federal authorities temporarily halted J&J vaccinations in April. A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the agency is aware of, and is looking into, additional reported clot deaths since then, including the one in Washington state.

The King County woman received her shot on Aug. 26. She died on Sept. 7. Blood clots are a very rare complication associated with J&J's vaccine. According to King County authorities, 12.5 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered by July 8, 2021, with 38 people having confirmed cases of the unusual type of blood clot. The majority recovered from the issue.

WEDNESAY MORNING HEADLINES
Saint Augustine's University in Raleigh resumes in-person classes Wednesday.

That comes after school leaders abruptly moved all classes online last week, citing health and safety concerns. There's still no word as to a specific COVID-19 jump or another health risk that preceded the decision to move classes online.

COVID-19 test kit maker Ellume is recalling some at-home tests after learning that they were reporting a higher-than-expected rate of false positive results indicating someone has the virus when they do not.

The Australian company has said the tests were shipped to U.S. retailers and other distributors from April through August. It published a list on its website of the lot numbers on test packages affected by the recall.

The company said about 427,000 tests are in the lots identified in the recall, and nearly 200,000 are unused. Ellume said tests from those lots may provide false-positive results at a rate higher than researchers saw during clinical testing.

Ellume said it will email customers who used one of those test kits and received a positive result in the last two weeks. It recommended that people who have not scheduled another test to confirm the result should immediately do so.

The Department of Homeland Security this week issued an intel notice warning that extremists, including white supremacists and other would-be domestic terrorists, are likely to "threaten violence or plot against healthcare personnel, facilities, and public officials in response to renewed and expanding COVID-19 mitigation measures."
The document, distributed Monday to U.S. law enforcement and government agencies and obtained by ABC News, noted that anti-vaccine messaging will likely increase as vaccine mandates spread.

Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.