COVID-19 vaccine efforts increase in effort to offset lull in demand

Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

4:46 p.m.
The Johnston County Health Department is holding a first and second dose Pfizer walk-in clinic on June 2 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Smithfield-Selma High School, at 700 M Durwood Stephenson Parkway in Smithfield. The clinic will be in the SSS Cafeteria. To register, click here.

All teens desiring vaccination should be accompanied by an adult (someone 18 or older) and should eat at least 1-2 hours prior to receiving the vaccine.

Individuals seeking a second dose should have received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on or before May 12.

1:45 p.m.
525 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Tuesday.

This marks the second day below 600 new cases and the lowest since August 17 when there were 431.

The percent of positive tests is at 4.2%.

There are currently 699 people hospitalized with COVID-19. This is the first day of an increase in this metric after 5 days of decline.

COVID-19 deaths in the state surpassed 13,000. A total of 13,004 have died as a result of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

48.1% of the adult population of NC is fully vaccinated.

1:09 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports four new cases for a total of 5,631 positive COVID-19 cases. No new deaths were reported (112 total).

11:20 a.m.
A new report by the CDC shows that breakthrough infections are very rare in fully vaccinated individuals and almost all patients survive COVID-19.

Breakthrough infection was defined as positive test 14 or more days after being fully vaccinated with any FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J).

The study period was from Jan 1 - April 30, 2021, at the end of which 101 million persons had been fully vaccinated and a total of 10,262 breakthrough infections were reported (roughly 0.01%).

In all, 27% were asymptomatic, only 10% were hospitalized and only 2% died. At least 29% of the hospitalized patients were asymptomatic or hospitalized for a non-COVID reason. Of those who died, median age was 82 years and 18% died from a non-COVID cause.

11 a.m.
North Carolina's unemployment rate has reached another COVID-19 post-lockdown low, even as overall job growth is somewhat uneven.

April's seasonally adjusted state jobless rate of 5% marks a decline for a seventh consecutive month, according to the state Commerce Department. It compares to the top pandemic rate of 13.5% recorded in both April 2020 and May 2020.

While the number of employed people grew by 4,500 between March and April to about 4.76 million, overall non-farm employment actually dropped by 5,800. And with the number of unemployed also falling by 8,100, it appears some displaced workers are no longer actively seeking work.

The employment categories that include professional and business services and transportation saw the largest numerical decline, according to data released by the department.

Last Friday's jobless figures came the same day that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order reinstating the requirement that, as of June 6, all unemployment benefit recipients meet work-search rules set in state law to receive payments.

Those requirements had been suspended during the pandemic. Cooper had already reinstated work-search requirements for new benefit filers as of mid-March.

The governor's office also said last Friday the Commerce Department was told to look at ways the state could use federal funds to create an incentive program for jobless individuals who become employed.

Republicans in the state Senate unveiled a legislative proposal last week that would give benefit recipients bonuses of $1,500 or $750 if they return to work soon. GOP lawmakers say they've heard from employers desperately seeking employees to fill vacancies.

10 a.m.
A White House official has confirmed that the U.S. is set to mark yet another notable vaccine milestone on Tuesday, when the country surpasses 50% of its adult population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, ABC News reports. Currently, 49.8% of the country's adult population is fully vaccinated, according to data released last night by the CDC.

It is also possible that the country could hit another milestone on Tuesday, or in the days to come, when it marks 50% of the total population vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Currently, 49.4% of the country's total population has received at least one dose, per CDC data.

9 a.m.
The Cumberland County Public Library said visitors no longer need to make appointments and visits are no longer limited to 45 minutes.

Cleaning will happen during the day rather than the library closing for hourly cleaning sessions. Visitors are still encouraged to limit their time in a library to one hour. Computers are socially distanced and available for use. Group visits and in-person programming is still restricted.

8:05 a.m.
Moderna released its data from testing its COVID-19 vaccine on teenagers.

The company said the vaccine was highly effective and safe.

Moderna is expected to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization of its vaccine to be extended to kids ages 12 and older.

6:35 a.m.
The push to get all North Carolinians vaccinated against COVID-19 ramps up.

A new vaccine clinic is opening in Wake County. It's located at the Eastern regional Center in Zebulon on Dogwood Drive near Highway 96 and Arendell Avenue.

Anyone 12 and older can get a vaccine at that new clinic between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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That comes as North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is launching a pilot program that would pay people to get vaccinated.

The state's plan earmarks $25 gift cards for anyone who gets vaccinated or anyone who drives someone else to a clinic to get vaccinated.

Find all the specific details about the limited program here.

NC Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will host another virtual fireside chat starting at 5:30 p.m. on NCDHH's social media pages.

Cohen will be focusing on efforts to increase the vaccination rate for people living in rural communities.

Monday
4:34 p.m.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released some tips for traveling this summer, particularly for those who aren't vaccinated.

First, the CDC, not unexpectedly, recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated. But if you haven't gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC says these tips will help protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Get tested with a viral test 1-3 days before your trip. Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for a full 7 days after travel.

  • If you don't get tested, stay home and self-quarantine for 10 days after travel.

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth, avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.

  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Wearing a mask is required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.


2:05 p.m.
Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte will open at full capacity this summer.

That includes for Panthers games.

Masks and proof of vaccination will not be required. Hand sanitizer and mobile ticketing will be available.

2:01 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports five new cases for a total of 5,627 positive COVID-19 cases. No new deaths (112 total) were reported.

1:15 p.m.
581 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Monday.

The state hasn't seen a daily number that low since August 17, 2020 with 431. Monday's number is a 15.5% decrease from last Monday.

The percent of positive tests is at 3.7%. That marks the sixth day in a row under 4%.

680 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina. That's the fifth day in a row of a decrease and the lowest since June 4, 2020.

29 more deaths have reported since Friday. A total of 12,987 have died in the state as a result of COVID-19.

52.5% of the adult population in North Carolina has received their first dose.

1 p.m.
Governor Roy Cooper announced $51.4 million in new funding that will help students access and complete postsecondary education as the state recovers from the pandemic.

The state will invest:
  • $44 million of the funds to help students access college and earn degrees starting this fall
  • $5 million to support mental health initiatives across state postsecondary institutions
  • $2.4 million into equity-focused initiatives for K-12 and postsecondary students and families


The funding is North Carolina's share of the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, which are federal dollars that aim to help school districts, postsecondary institutions, or other education-related entities address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

11 a.m.
As Americans begin to travel at the highest rate since the pandemic started, United Airlines is encouraging people to get vaccinated by giving away a chance to win free flights for anyone who uploads a photo of their vaccine card.

The "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes gives entrants a chance to win a roundtrip flight for two, in any class of service, to anywhere in the world United flies. United will give away 30 pairs of tickets throughout the month of June. On July 1, United will pick five people for the grand prize: Travel for a year for themselves and a companion, in any class of service, anywhere in the world United flies. The sweepstakes runs May 24 to June 22.

10 a.m.

Cape Fear Valley Health is loosening visitation restrictions. Now, the majority of Cape Fear Valley Medical Center inpatients, Cape Fear Valley Rehabilitation Center patients, Bladen County Hospital and Hoke Hospital patients may have an unlimited number of visitors between noon and 8 p.m.

Visitors must be at least 12 years old, and no more than two visitors at a time are allowed in a patient's room.

9:25 a.m.
On Tuesday, the Wake County Eastern Regional Center in Zebulon joins three other locations across Wake County with vaccine appointments or walk-ins available.

The Eastern Regional Center, located at 1002 Dogwood Drive. It will offer Pfizer shots. For its first day of vaccination, hours will be 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for a soft opening.

9 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is offering $25 Summer Cash Cards at select vaccine sites.

From May 26 through June 8, select vaccine sites will offer Summer Cash Cards in Mecklenburg, Guilford, Rowan and Rockingham counties.

Anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination - or drives someone to their vaccination - will receive a $25 cash card after vaccination at a participating location while supplies last, NCDHHS said in a news release.

The $25 Summer Cash card pilot is part of the state's campaign to get more people vaccinated. State Employees' Credit Union is providing the cash cards and waiving the card production fees.

More than 50% of North Carolina adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the state health department.

Monday morning storylines



COVID vaccinations
U.S. health officials say that most fully vaccinated Americans can skip testing for COVID-19, even if they were exposed to someone infected. That new guidance was announced last week but was all but eclipsed by the new, more relaxed guidelines on masks. Experts say the waning importance of testing reflects a new phase of the pandemic. People who are fully vaccinated face little risk of developing serious illness or passing the infection onto others. Experts now say that aggressively testing vaccinated people can lead to unnecessary worry and disruption at work and school.

Free rides to vaccine sites
The ride hailing companies Uber and Lyft have started providing free transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites in the United States.

Uber said Monday that it will provide four rides valued at up to $25 each through July 4 while Lyft has said that it is offering two rides of up to $15 each.

The federal government said earlier this month that it would partner with the ride-hailing companies to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated as the pace of the shots nationally started to decline.

President Joe Biden has set a goal of delivering at least one dose of vaccine to 70% of adult Americans by Independence Day and fully vaccinating at least 160 million by then.

The latest in India

India crossed another grim milestone Monday with more than 300,000 people lost to the coronavirus, while a devastating surge of infections appeared to be easing in big cities but was swamping the poorer countryside.

The milestone, as recorded by India's Health Ministry, comes as slowed vaccine deliveries have marred the country's fight against the pandemic, forcing many to miss their shots, and a rare but fatal fungal infection affecting COVID-19 patients has worried doctors.

India's death toll is the third-highest reported in the world after the U.S. and Brazil, accounting for 8.6% of the nearly 34.7 million coronavirus fatalities globally, though the true numbers are thought to be significantly greater.
Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.