All essential workers now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina

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Thursday, April 1, 2021
Coronavirus NC: Latest updates on COVID-19 in North Carolina
Coronavirus NC: Latest updates on COVID-19 in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

6:30 p.m.

Duke University announced on Wednesday that it will have an in-person commencement celebrating the Class of 2021 accomplishments on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 9 a.m.

All remote undergraduate seniors and undergraduates who completed the requirements for their studies in the fall or winter of 2020 will be able to attend the ceremony.

5:29 p.m.

The Departure Drive facility in northeast Raleigh where thousands of people have gotten COVID-19 tests will soon offer vaccinations, when it opens next week as Wake County's first regional vaccination clinic.

The Wake County Human Services Center at Departure Drive has served as a free COVID-19 testing center since December. In the past five months, this site has conducted more than 70,000 COVID-19 tests.

On Monday, drive-thru testing will move directly across the street to the parking lot of Vision Church RDU at 5808 Departure Drive, and the Human Services Center at 5809 Departure Drive will be transformed into a walk-in, indoor vaccination clinic.

"We're excited to be able to offer this fourth mass vaccination site for the public," said Ryan Jury, the vaccination branch director for Wake County Public Health. "But more importantly, this marks the beginning of our transition to operating a focused regional model of vaccination, where we can increase the number of vaccine centers in communities throughout Wake County."

Soon, those on the Wake County's vaccine request list who are invited to make an appointment for a shot will be able to choose from four different locations:

  • The new site on Departure Drive;
  • PNC Arena;
  • Wake County Public Health Center on Sunnybrook Road; and
  • Wake County Commons Building.

Like these other established sites, vaccinations given at the Departure Drive location will be administered by appointment only. The site will operate five days a week, with plans to open several other regional locations during the coming weeks and months.

Testing across the street at Vision Church RDU will operate weekly, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No appointments for testing are needed, and no IDs or insurance are required.

4:07 p.m.

The Halifax County Health Department reports 20 new cases for a total of 5,202 total positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death was reported, bringing the county total to 104.

2:30 p.m.

The CDC reports the US has now administered more than 150 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine.

More than 50% of the population older than 65 is now fully vaccinated. More than one in five adults is now fully vaccinated.

The White House says 2.67 million administered shots have been reported since Tuesday, marking what they say is a new record for a Wednesday.

Last Thursday, President Biden announced his administration would administer 200 million shots by his 100th day in office. That's April 29.

There were 16.5 million shots in arms before he was inaugurated. So Biden's talking about 200 million shots since January 20.

"I know it's ambitious," he said. Though even as he spoke, the US was already on pace to easily exceed that goal by April 29.

2 p.m.

Starting Thursday, April 1, at 7 a.m. Eastern time, the online appointment reservation system will open for Moderna COVID-19 vaccination appointments at 142 Georgia, 62 South Carolina and 16 Virginia Publix Pharmacy locations.

1:50 p.m.

NCDHHS on Wednesday reported 1,929 new COVID-19 cases in the state. The percent of positive tests is currently at 6.5.

955 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

126 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

17.6 percent of the population of North Carolina is fully vaccinated. 22.5 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.

12 p.m.

A new report says U.S. deaths last year topped 3.3 million, the nation's highest annual death toll.

That includes about 375,000 deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report Wednesday.

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of U.S. deaths in 2020, after heart disease and cancer.

Overall, the year's death rate was up nearly 16% compared to the previous year. The COVID-19 death rate was highest among Hispanic people. In a separate report, the CDC said its review of death certificates confirms the accuracy of the death count for COVID-19.

11 a.m.

German officials have decided to limit the use of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine in people under 60 after more unusual blood clots were reported in a small number of people who received the shots. In response, Europe's drug regulator reiterated Wednesday that there is no evidence to support restricting the vaccine's use, though it continues to investigate the issue.

10 a.m.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall.


The rest of Group 4 is now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This group includes people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk, those living in congregate settings, and essential workers.

Part of Group 4 has already been eligible, but today the essential workers in this group--such as hotel employees, public works employees and those who work in financial services--now qualify. In 1 week (April 7), the vaccine will be open to all adults over 16 years of age.

Meanwhile, the number of cases in North Carolina continue to tick up. Tuesday saw the highest positive case increase in two weeks.

The percentage of positive tests also increased to 6.2 percent, and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 increased by 51--the highest increase since January.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a three month extension of the statewide eviction moratorium. He also signed an Executive Order extending to-go alcohol sales through the end of April.

And finally, trains are coming back!

Passenger trains in North Carolina will resume full service on Monday. To celebrate, passengers can buy tickets for 50 percent off during April.


6 p.m.

To continue reopening North Carolina's economy, the head of the state's Republican Party is urging everyone to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible.

Michael Whatley, NCGOP Chairman, said he will be ready when it's time to roll up his sleeve.

"Look, I'm going to get the shot as soon as I'm eligible," he told ABC11 on Tuesday. "I encourage everybody else to get the shot as soon as they're eligible. If anybody has any concerns about the safety or efficacy of the shots, they should talk to their doctors about it, but this is certainly a personal choice and one between any individuals and their doctors."

On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, encouraged all Republican men to get vaccinated, in response to polls showing the demographic expressed the most reluctance to getting a shot.

5:37 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed three Executive Orders aimed at providing continued COVID-19 relief.

Executive Order 206 extends North Carolina's statewide residential eviction moratorium through June 30 in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recent extension of the nationwide moratorium through the same date.

Executive Order 207 expedites the processing of unemployment insurance claims and is also effective through June 30.

Executive Order 205 extends the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission's (ABC Commission) authorization to permit the delivery or carry-out of mixed beverages as an alternative to on-site consumption through April 30.

"Even though North Carolina is turning the corner on this pandemic, many are still struggling," Cooper said. "These Executive Orders will help families stay in their homes and help hard-hit businesses increase their revenue."

4:52 p.m.

Sampson County said it has 18 new cases for a total of 7,525 COVID-19 cases.

Deaths reported remain the same, at 99.

The next COVID-19 vaccination event will take place Wednesday at the Sampson Agri Expo Center, 414 Warsaw Road in Clinton. The event has been moved inside the Expo Center because of the threat of severe weather. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Second doses will be provided from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to those who have received their first dose on March 3. From 1 p.m. - 4 p.m., first doses for persons 18 and older who have not received any vaccine 14 days prior to the event will be given.

3:55 p.m.

The 4th Fighter Wing Medical Group at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is hosting a COVID-19 mass vaccine line for authorized TRICARE beneficiaries at the base Fitness Center.

On Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available for anyone 16 years of age and older. Persons must have a valid DoD ID card and be TRICARE authorized for healthcare in military medical facilities.

1:47 p.m.

The Halifax County Health Department reports just two new cases for a total of 5,182 total positive COVID 19 cases. The death county remains at 103 countywide.

12 p.m.

Tuesday's report from the NCDHHS included 1,370 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. There are 924 people in the hospital; 51 more than yesterday.

35.5% of the adult population has been at least partially vaccinated. 22% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.

The daily percent positive rate was 6.2%.

Sadly, 12,087 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

10:30 a.m.

The Tokyo Olympics open in less than four months and the torch relay has already begun to crisscross Japan. Olympic organizers say they are mitigating the risks but some medical experts aren't convinced. Dr. Norio Sugaya is an infectious diseases expert in Japan.

He says "It is best not to hold the Olympics given the considerable risks. The risks are high in Japan. Japan is dangerous. Not a safe place at all."

Surveys in Japan show up to 80% of the population is opposed to holding the Olympics under present conditions.

10 a.m.

More than 20 heads of government and global agencies have called for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations.

In a commentary published on Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda called for "a renewed collective commitment" to reinforce the world's pandemic preparedness and response systems, that would be rooted in WHO's constitution.

"We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic," they wrote. Although they called for "solidarity" and greater "societal commitment," there was no indication any country would soon change its own approach to responding to the pandemic.

But there are few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively.

Last week, Tedros pleaded with rich countries to immediately donate 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses so immunization campaigns could start in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. Not a single country has yet publicly offered to share its vaccines. Of the more than 459 million vaccine doses administered globally, most have been in just 10 countries - and 28% in just one.

7:50 a.m.

Johnston County Schools will no longer do COVID-19 symptom screenings on people entering school buildings.

The school district Tweeted the decision on Monday, saying the screenings would stop for staff on April 5 and stop for students April 12.

The district said it is following guidance in the Strong Schools NC Public Health toolkit.

WATCH: How much do temperature screenings protect you from COVID-19?

In March, health officials touted fever as one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19. Now, six months later, new research shows fever isn't the predominant symptom.

6:45 a.m.

Researchers are UNC are exploring if the COVID-19 vaccine can prevent the spread of the virus.

Right now, health experts know that the vaccines authorized in the United States are effective at reducing the chance of infection and drastically reducing the severity of the virus. However, it's unclear if a vaccinated person can still transmit the virus to other people.

UNC is taking part in the Prevent COVID-U Study.

UNC is looking to enroll 600 students in a study to see if the COVID vaccine keeps people from spreading the virus to others.

That trial includes 12,000 college students at 23 schools across the country. All the participants must be between the ages of 18 and 26 and not have contracted COVID-19 yet. UNC hopes to enroll 600 students in the study.

"College students are intimately involved with many many people. We can see whether they had enough virus in their nose to transmit to the next person and see did they transmit to the next person," one researcher explained.

The results of the study may help determine when it's safe to ease off mask use and have large gatherings.

5 a.m.

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens will begin a phased reopening this week.

Duke students, faculty and staff will be able to get timed tickets this week. They will be required to show their Duke ID to get a ticket.

All visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

The gardens will be open Thursday - Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Plans for other reopening phases will be released at a later date.


It's a busy week with respect to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in North Carolina.

Today, inmates in the Wake County jail will get vaccinated with the single dose Johnson and Johnson shot. The sheriff's office said about 140 inmates have shown interest in getting the vaccine.

Tomorrow, vaccine eligibility opens up to people in group 4. That includes a long list of workers in various fields such as hotel workers, public works employees, construction workers and many more.

Then next Wednesday, April 7, the vaccine becomes eligible to anyone 16 and older.

These vaccine milestones come as cases begin to slightly tick back upward in North Carolina. Daily cases have fallen drastically from a peak in January and early February, but since mid-March they have leveled out and even started to climb a little.

Yesterday's numbers showed a 5.7 percent positive of COVID-19 tests. That number is just above the state's goal of 5 percent. Hospitalizations and deaths from the virus continue to fall.


5:35 p.m.

The Wake County Sheriff's Office said inmates will receive the COVID-19 on a voluntary basis Tuesday. The inmates who take the vaccine will receive a shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Officials said approximately 140 inmates have expressed interest in receiving the vaccine.

4:15 p.m.

Wake County has administered its 100,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Apex father Timothy Sisley received the milestone dose.

"I had my notebook ready to write some thoughts about work, and this was a really nice surprise!" said the 42-year-old father.

Wake County Public Health received its first shipment of vaccine in December 2020. By February 2021, more than 12,000 people had received first or second shots.

"It seems like a dream, really," said Dr. Kim McDonald, Wake County Public Health's Medical Director. "We're so excited to hit this 100,000 mark, and we couldn't have done it without the wonderful team that we have working here or without all of the people who are willing to come and get the vaccine. I'm just so proud and privileged to be part of this."

3 p.m.

Lee County health officials reported 72 more COVID-19 cases since last Monday, bringing the county total to 5,667 cases since the pandemic began.

2 p.m.

The White House said that President Joe Biden will unveil new actions to get more people vaccinated quickly and announce that by April 19, 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible for vaccination and 90% will have a vaccination site within 5 miles of where they live.

The President will announce that the Administration is increasing the number of pharmacies in the federal pharmacy vaccination program from 17,000 to nearly 40,000 across the country and will stand up a dozen more mass vaccination sites by April 19. He will also announce a new effort to fund community organizations to provide transportation and assistance for the nation's most at-risk seniors and people with disabilities to access vaccines.

Biden: 90% of adults will be COVID vaccine-eligible in three weeks

12:44 p.m.

The Halifax County Health Department reports 32 new cases since Thursday for a total of 5,180 positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 103 deaths countywide since the start of the pandemic.

12:36 p.m.

Monday's report from NCDHHS included 1,372 newly-reported COVID-19 cases.

There are 873 hospitalizations and 35.2% of the adult population has been at least partially vaccinated. In total, 21.6% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated.

The daily percent positive rate was 5.7%.

A total of 12,085 people have died in NC since the start of the pandemic.

12:35 p.m.

Sampson County reports 50 new COVID-19 cases since Thursday for a total of 7,507 cases.

The county death toll remains at 99.

The next COVID-19 vaccination event in Sampson County will Wednesday at the Sampson Agri Expo Center, 414 Warsaw Road in Clinton from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Second doses will be provided from 9 ..m. to 11 a.m. to those who received their first dose March 3. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., first doses for will be given to people 18 and older who have received any vaccine 14 days prior to the event.

11:35 a.m.

The Biden administration is extending a federal moratorium on evictions of tenants who have fallen behind on rent during the coronavirus pandemic.

The moratorium was scheduled to end Wednesday, but on Monday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would be extended through the end of June.

However, as ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson has repeatedly shown, that moratorium alone is not keeping all tenants from being evicted.

WATCH | 'It's so hard:' Renters being kicked out of their homes despite eviction moratorium

"I don't know what I'm going to do. I don't know where I'm going to put my stuff," said one Fayetteville mom.


All of East Campus Union at Duke University is closed due to COVID-19 cases among the dining staff.

Students were informed of the closure Saturday. Starting this morning, hot catered meals will be prepared in separate kitchens and available for pick-up. Rotating food trucks will also be available in front of East Campus Union around dinner time.

The Biden administration is currently working to develop a system for people to prove they've been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a senior administration official.

Multiple government agencies are engaged in conversations and planning, coordinated by the White House, as this kind of system will play a role in multiple aspects of life, including potentially the workforce, the official said.

A draft of a World Health Organization report shows the origins of the COVID-19 virus remains inconclusive.

The report suggests the virus most likely jumped from bats to another animal and then to humans. In the report, scientists said it is 'extremely unlikely' that the virus spread into the world from a laboratory leak.

Finally, some good news for parents of children too young to qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci said it's possible that children could go to camps or playgrounds this summer.

He said he'd like to see COVID-19 rates continue to drop throughout the spring, but that it was "conceivable that that will be possible."


4 p.m.

Lee County will expand COVID-19 vaccine registration to everyone starting Monday.

At this time, the Lee County Health Department is only administering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

To register for a vaccine, people are asked to contact the Lee County Health Department at (919) 842-5744 or to register in Spanish, (919) 718-4640 option 8. The line will be open MOnday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

2:40 p.m.

Children may not need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for parents to send them to camps or playgrounds this summer, the nation's top infectious disease expert told CBS News on Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has previously said that elementary school-aged kids won't likely be vaccinated until the first quarter of 2022, as vaccine developers continued to study their effects in children.

12:20 p.m.

In a statement sent to Duke students on Saturday, school officials said all of East Campus Union, including the Marketplace and Trinity Cafe will be closed until further notice due to several COVID-19 cases in dining staff.

Duke said other dining options will be made available to students. Starting Monday, hot, catered meals will be prepared in a separate kitchen and available for pick-up. Rotating food trucks will also be an option for dinner each night in front of the East Campus Union.

7:40 a.m.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 30,219,071 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States since the pandemic began.


6 p.m.

Bars and restaurants in downtown Raleigh saw more crowds as some COVID-19 restrictions were lifted Friday evening.

The alcohol curfew has been eliminated as of Friday night and restaurants can operate indoors up to 75% capacity.

Raleigh restaurants and bars saw more crowds Saturday as some COVID-19 restrictions were lifted as of Friday.

Fauci lays out scenario for when experts could loosen face mask recommendations; US COVID cases still way too high

12:45 p.m.

As of Friday, March 26, the NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard data will be only be updated Monday through Fridays.

7:20 a.m.

As of Saturday morning, Johns Hopkins University is reporting 30,160,408 COVID-19 cases in the United States since the pandemic started.