Gov. Cooper says North Carolina has distributed almost 2 million vaccine doses

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

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6 p.m.
Due to inclement weather, the Durham County Department of Public Health COVID-19 vaccination clinic will open at 11am on Friday, February 19. Individuals with second-dose vaccine appointments scheduled before 11am will be contacted on the evening of Thursday, February 18, with more information about moving their appointments to a later time on Friday, February 19.

All first-dose appointments scheduled for Thursday, February 18 through Wednesday, February 24 will be contacted Friday, February 19 to reschedule their appointment for a later date.

4:57 p.m.
A Nash Correctional Institution offender who tested positive for COVID-19, has died at a hospital.

The offender, a man in his early 60s with underlying health issues, tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 22. He was hospitalized on Jan. 31. His condition worsened, and he died Wednesday.

4:49 p.m.
The Wayne County Health Department has administered 5,994 first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 1,960 second doses, and has 7,115 people on the waiting list.

The health department said the severe weather has delayed its shipment of vaccine doses this week and it was forced to re-schedule a portion of second dose appointments.

County leadership is working closely with Wayne County Public School leadership to develop a plan for vaccinating teachers. At this time, there are still residents in Phase 1 and Phase 2 who have not received a vaccine and these two groups remain a priority as more individuals become eligible in Phase 3.

2:30 p.m.
Gov. Cooper said in his news briefing that 91 of 100 county school districts are providing in-person instruction and, in March, that will be up to 95 percent of districts.

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Gov. Roy Cooper and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry outlined impacts and response to the winter storm, including weather-related delays to vaccine distribution.

He encouraged all school districts to take that step. But he said it's critical that parents and teachers have confidence in the health and safety aspects of returning.

The North Carolina House passed Senate Bill 37 on Wednesday. The bill called In-Person Learning Choice for Families requires state schools to offer some sort of in-person learning option amid the ongoing pandemic.

The bill is on his desk but he reiterated on Thursday that he doesn't believe that the bill adheres to DHHS health safety guidance for schools and protects the ability of state and local leaders to respond to emergencies.

He said he will talk to lawmakers before taking action on the bill.

2:15 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry outlined impacts and response to the winter storm, including weather-related delays to vaccine distribution.

"Delays in vaccine shipment from the federal government are frustrating to us all, but providers are working to get appointments scheduled and we are pushing to get more vaccine to our state," Cooper said.

Winter weather across the nation this week has resulted in shipping delays from vaccine manufacturers to health departments and medical providers across the country. NCDHHS said it is in communication with the CDC and providers to give as much information as possible about when new shipments will arrive so appointments can be rescheduled.

As of Thursday, Cooper said North Carolina has administered almost two million doses of vaccine. The state is working to make progress in the equity of vaccine distribution. Last week, 23% of doses were administered to Black North Carolinians, up from just 13% five weeks ago.

12:50 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 3,916 new COVID-19 cases in the state.

That's an increase from days prior but more tests were also recorded -- more than 47,000 in the last day.

1,892 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state. 214 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

The percent of positive tests is at 6.2 percent -- nearing the goal of 5 percent.

Gov. Roy Cooper, members of the Coronavirus Task Force and NC Emergency Management will give an update on COVID-19 and inclement weather. The conference is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

NCDHHS has been notified by the federal government of continued delays in some shipments and deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine this week, due to severe weather. Both first and second dose shipments have been impacted.

The Department is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and vaccine providers to help minimize the potential effects of these delays.

Moderna vaccines have not been shipped this week and only a limited number of Pfizer vaccines have been shipped. Both Pfizer and Moderna have a backlog of orders due to weather.

These delays may cause vaccination appointments to be postponed or rescheduled. As there is not enough vaccine in the state to shift or transfer supply in order to cover the delayed vaccine doses, DHHS is advising providers to assess current appointments and notify recipients accordingly based on on-hand supplies.

5:35 p.m.
The Wake County Health Department announced Wednesday that it will cancel its large-scale COVID-19 vaccine event at the PNC Arena set for Thursday, Feb. 18 due to the threat of winter weather.

"Based on the current forecast, Wake County could see ice accumulating on the roads until mid-day tomorrow," said Ellis. "The safety of our residents and employees is our top priority, so I've made the decision to delay opening, as well as adjust our COVID-19 testing and vaccination operations."

The county will move Thursday's appointments to Monday, Feb. 22. Anyone with conflict of timing can contact the COVID-19 call center at (919) 250-1515.

3:20 p.m.
The North Carolina House passed Senate Bill 37 Wednesday. The bill called In-Person Learning Choice for Families requires state schools to offer some sort of in-person learning option amid the ongoing pandemic.

The bill is now headed to Gov. Cooper. Cooper has supported the return of students to classrooms but says the bill is flawed.

"Children should be back in the classroom safely and I can sign this legislation if it adheres to DHHS health safety guidance for schools and protects the ability of state and local leaders to respond to emergencies," Cooper said. "This bill currently falls short on both of these fronts."

1 p.m.
The University of North Carolina System announced campuses will soon operate COVID-19 vaccine clinics with an emphasis on reaching underserved and rural populations.

University of North Carolina Asheville, University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University will open their community clinics this week. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University launched its vaccine operation on Feb. 11 and will administer up to 700 doses each week in conjunction with Cone Health.

"The faster we can distribute these vaccines, the faster we can get North Carolinians back to work, back to family gatherings, back to normal life," said UNC System President Peter Hans. "Our public universities will do everything in their power to bring that day closer."

UNC Asheville's clinic could offer up to 1,950 shots per week, depending on staffing and vaccine supply.

"As a key community partner in Western North Carolina, UNC Asheville is honored to collaborate with MAHEC to provide lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines to our community," said UNCA Chancellor Nancy J. Cable.

Working with the Robeson County Health Department, UNC Pembroke will administer 500 shots in its first allotment, starting Friday.

"Barriers to access exist in our communities and the goal with our mobile clinics is to remove obstacles and making sure the vaccine is available to everyone," said UNCP Chancellor Robin Cummings.

NC A&T will offer clinics with Cone Health, with first shot clinics on Thursdays and, beginning in March, second shot clinics on Tuesdays. Due to impending icy conditions, the Thursday clinic this week will be postponed until Monday, Feb. 22.

12:55 p.m.
NCDHHS announced Wednesday it will be issuing additional benefits of Feb. 19 through the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program.

The benefits will be received over several days for those who already have an EBT card for Food and Nutrition Services or P-EBT benefits.

The program helps families purchase food for children whose access to free or reduced-price meals has been impacted by the pandemic.

"Having enough healthy food every day is an essential part of children's health and well-being," said NCDHHS Deputy Secretary for Human Services Tara Myers. "The P-EBT program provides families essential help buying groceries for children who would normally have access to free and reduced lunch at school."

Families do not need to apply for P-EBT. Eligibility criteria are based on requirements from theU.S. Department of Agriculture. A school-aged child is eligible if their school participates in the National School Lunch Program and the student is eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals during the 2020-21 school year.

12:25 p.m.

North Carolina is reporting 3,167 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 829,507.

Throughout the state, 108 more people have died from the virus.

According to 96 percent of North Carolina hospitals, 1,954 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That is four less than Tuesday.

The state's daily percent positive test rate is currently 7.7%, which is up slightly from Tuesday's 7.4%.

12:09 p.m.
Due to inclement weather, the Wake County COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 18, at WakeMed Raleigh Campus (Andrews Center) will open at 11 a.m. The event is by appointment only.

Anyone with appointments scheduled between 6:30 and 10:50 a.m. will receive a call to reschedule.

11:43 a.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is pausing accepting first dose COVID-19 vaccination appointment requests until Feb. 22 while it prepares for Group 3 vaccinations. This pause will allow vaccination clinics to administer time-sensitive second dose vaccinations to those in the most vulnerable Groups 1 and 2. Cumberland County has around 2,700 individuals in Groups 1 and 2 who are waiting for their second dose.

The Health Department will reopen the appointment request form for first doses on Monday, Feb. 22, for Groups 1 and 2 and K-12 teachers and daycare who are in-person or anticipate an imminent return to an in-person work setting. Appointment requests will be prioritized for second dose appointments and those already in Groups 1 and 2 on the waitlist for dose one. Eligible individuals who are unable to get an appointment should consider using the stand-by lane on Fridays.

Some Wake County students on the traditional calendar return to the classroom today.

This will be the first time many of the students are in a physical classroom in over a year.

All students in kindergarten through 3rd grade can return to class, while students in 4th-12th grades return in hybrid learning rotations to allow for more social distancing.

Meanwhile, the race to vaccinate continues outside PNC Arena in Raleigh.

Wake County Health Department is on track to give more than 1,400 shots today in the parking lot of the entertainment venue.

The severe weather across the country is throwing another wrench into the vaccine efforts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention alerted North Carolina health officials to tell them there would be some disruptions to vaccine deliveries this week.

That is because of the winter weather stretching across the country.

The state is working to minimize the potential shipment delays.

11 p.m.
Despite the threat of delayed shipments of Pfizer across the state, Wake County health officials say they are set to administer more than 1,400 shots at PNC Arena on Wednesday.

10 p.m.
Some Wake County high school students are returning to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year. ABC11's Josh Chapin spoke to one family who's ecstatic as Wednesday morning approaches. The Wake County school board acknowledges that there will be hiccups but with more students back inside the classroom, they will be able to be able to assess the environment.
3:45 p.m.
Due to severe weather, the CDC has notified NCDHHS that there may be delays in some shipments and deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine this week, according to a statement from an NCDHHS spokesperson. NCDHHS said it will continue working with the CDC and vaccine providers to help minimize the potential effects of these delays.

2:30 p.m.

Tuesday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services included 1,988 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. It's the first time we fell below 2,000 since mid-November.

There were a total of 1,958 hospitalizations on Monday.

The daily percent positive rate was 7.4%, a slight decrease from yesterday's 7.7%.

There were 61 deaths added, bringing the state total to 10,562 since the start of the pandemic.

12:05 p.m.
A Nash Correctional Institution offender with existing medical conditions who tested positive for COVID-19 has died at a hospital.

The offender tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 8 and was hospitalized the next day. His condition worsened, and he died Feb. 15.

The offender was in his early 70s and had underlying health conditions.

"We continue to work hard to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offender population is our top priority," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons.

12:04 p.m.
Sampson County reports 30 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 6,604 since the start of the pandemic.

The death toll remains at 86.

12 p.m.
According to the latest report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, cases, COVID-19 hospital admissions, and test positivity continue to decline nationally.

The U.S. continues to see a five-week, downward trend in new cases resulting in a 64% decline in the 7-day average since the peak on January 11, 2021 (from 249,048 to 89,747).

The number of confirmed new COVID-19 patient admissions has decreased 22% since the previous week (7-day daily average from 9,900 to 7,740).

The number of deaths is up slightly (+0.3%), in part due to Ohio in recent days reporting 4,275 previously unreported deaths dating back to Oct 2020.

Overall, 54,260,570 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States.

In total, 12% of the population (39.1 million people) has received 1 or more doses and 4% of the population (14.6 million people) has received 2 doses.

11:20 a.m.
The WCPSS Board of Education is meeting today to discuss updates on the current and future work to support students who are not attending regularly, and for students who are experiencing academic difficulties as the district prepares for a return to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

9:26 a.m.
The city of Rocky Mount's Tar River Transit service is offering free rides to those with scheduled appointments to "drive-up" vaccination sites.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday to vaccination sites in Nash and Edgecombe counties. Residents who are interested in transportation to and from vaccination sites may call Tar River Transit at (252) 972-1174, (252) 972-1514, (252) 972-1515, (252) 972-1516 or (252) 972-1517.

All appointments may be scheduled the day before the trip. Healthcare facilities may also call and schedule transportation on behalf of their patients. Free rides will be available until at least June 30.

There is a push to ramp up vaccinations in the Latinx community. Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 but account for about 2% of those getting vaccinated in North Carolina. The Wake County Health Department is partnering with El Centro Hispano to turn that around by holding clinics focusing on the Latinx community.

Today, state house leaders are scheduled to present a plan to provide weeks of additional in-classroom learning recovery for North Carolina students who may have fallen behind during virtual learning. This would take place over the summer.
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