$100 cash cards run out as demand for COVID-19 vaccine spikes in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina, like many other states across the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

3:40 p.m.
Mike Nagowski, Chief Executive Officer for Cape Fear Valley Health System, on Friday described the Delta variant as "like the original COVID on steroids."

Cumberland County health officials said the COVID-19 positive infection rate is currently above 15% there and hospitalizations are increasing.

"In the last six weeks, as the Delta variant has taken hold...we now have 89 people who are COVID positive in our hospital. Almost every single person in the hospital is unvaccinated," said Nagowski.

The medical center is seeing younger patients, health officials said. "The people dying today are far different than those who were dying in the beginning of the pandemic," Nagowski said.

Clinics will be held at Cumberland County Public Library locations on Saturdays in August from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Appointments are not needed.
August 7 - Headquarters Library
August 7 - Spring Lake Regional Library


1:25 p.m.
A new CDC study finds that being vaccinated after COVID-19 infection offers far better protection than prior infection alone.

The study looked Kentucky residents who previously had COVID-19. Some decided to get vaccinated, others did not. The people who were unvaccinated were more than twice as likely to be re-infected compared to the people who were vaccinated.

"If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. "This study shows you are twice as likely to get infected again if you are unvaccinated. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious Delta variant spreads around the country."

1:20 p.m.
Wake County Public Health reported an outbreak of COVID-19 at Hillcrest Raleigh at Crabtree Valley, a skilled nursing facility located at 3830 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh.

The facility had previous outbreaks in November and January. No additional information about residents or employees within the facility were disclosed.

12:30 p.m.
New daily COVID-19 cases in North Carolina continue to rise.

4,506 new cases were reported in the state on Friday.

The percent of positive tests in the state is at 10.6%.

1,715 are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19. That number has continued to climb since just after July 4th weekend.

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

There are currently 421 adult COVID-19 patients in ICUs statewide.

12% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide are on a ventilator.

62% percent of the adult population in North Carolina is vaccinated with at least one dose.

12:15 p.m.
According to the White House, more than 821,000 doses were reported administered Thursday, including 565,000 newly vaccinated. That means the 7-day average of newly vaccinated is up 11% from last week and 44% over past 2 weeks. 50% of Americans are now fully vaccinated.

10:50 a.m.
All members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will either be vaccinated or be tested weekly when they return to campus.

Faculty and staff who do not attest to being vaccinated will be required to participate in the Carolina Together Testing Program's weekly asymptomatic testing.

In order to be exempt from weekly testing, faculty and staff are required to complete a COVID-19 Vaccination Certification Form. The new requirement for unvaccinated faculty and staff aligns with the requirement for unvaccinated students.

Students are also now required to fill out the COVID-19 Vaccination Certification form.

Masks continue to be required for everyone while indoors on campus. Additionally, students who attend any indoor, off-campus events or activities of registered student organizations must now wear masks at all times.

7:50 a.m.
United Airlines announced Friday that all U.S.-based employees will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination card to a company site by this fall.

It is the first major U.S. carrier to mandate vaccines for all employees. Delta Air Lines announced earlier this year that it is requiring all new employees to be inoculated.

United joins a growing list of companies that have mandated vaccines for employees in some capacity: Uber, DoorDash, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Walmart and many more.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
The state health department ran out of $100 gift cards to give to people getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

That was a new incentive tested this week, and it appears to have been popular.

NCDHHS said the vaccine sites will not have the gift cards this weekend. However, they plan to restock by next week.

The cards are being offered through August 31 at these locations.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to recommend COVID-19 booster shots for certain Americans in the coming weeks.

According to ABC News, the FDA will make the announcement is expected between now and early September. The recommendation will be that Americans will compromised immune systems get the third shot.

Scientists said they've seen reduced immune responses to the vaccine for people who have had transplants or cancer or who are taking immune suppressing medication.

For now, the CDC and FDA agree that a booster shot is not needed for the general population at this time.

THURSDAY
2:20 p.m.
Orange County government has reinstituted a mask mandate for visitors and staff inside county facilities. The mandate went into effect Aug. 5, 2021, and will remain in place indefinitely.

12:30 p.m.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina shot up to 4,331 on Thursday.

That's the highest number of new daily cases since Feb. 13.

The percent of positive tests fell slightly from Wednesday to 10.4% but that's still well above the goal of less than 5%.

1,651 are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state. That's also the highest number of patients hospitalized in recent months. On this day last year, 1,145 were hospitalized.

246 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted to North Carolina hospitals in the last 24 hours.

The percent of the adult population with at least one does in the state increased by 1 percent to 62 percent.

11:20 a.m.

Cape Fear Valley Health announced that it will make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for employees, physicians, students, vendors, and volunteers. The deadline is Oct. 1, 2021.

9 a.m.
Johnston Community College announced it will require masks to be worn indoors, effective immediately and until further notice.
7 a.m.
Moderna reported Thursday morning that its COVID vaccine remained 93% effective against symptomatic illness after six months.

The pharmaceutical company said the data collection for this update was completed before the delta variant emerged in the United States.

"We are pleased that our COVID-19 vaccine is showing durable efficacy of 93% through six months, but recognize that the Delta variant is a significant new threat so we must remain vigilant," said Stephane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna.

6:25 a.m.
Another school district will meet today to discuss requirements surrounding facemasks for the upcoming school year.

Wake County Public School System unanimously voted Tuesday to make masks a requirement indoors at all schools this year.

Next up is Chatham County Schools. District leaders will meet at noon to start the debate.

So far in our region, 10 school districts have voted to mandate mask wearing: Wake County Public School System, Durham Public Schools, Cumberland County Schools, Wilson County School District, Hoke County Schools, Lee County Schools, Nash County Public Schools, Granville County Schools, Orange County School District and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

On the other hand, Clinton City Schools, Harnett County Schools, Johnston County Schools, Sampson County Schools, and Wayne County Public Schools have voted to keep masks optional for fully vaccinated students and staff.

WEDNESDAY
1:30 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper spoke Wednesday about the growing concerns as COVID-19 metrics move in a troubling direction.

"The highly contagious Delta variant makes vaccination all the more important," Cooper said. "We can't afford for people to wait any longer. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are up. Simply put, get your shot."

He also announced the third winner of the $1 million vaccine lottery, 18-year-old Audrey Chavous of Winston-Salem.

Gov. Cooper's opening remarks Wednesday

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Gov. Roy Cooper speaks on disturbing COVID-19 trends and announces the third $1 million vaccine lottery winner.



"I wanted to get vaccinated so I could be calm about going about my life," Chavous said.

She urged unvaccinated people to consider getting the vaccine.

"I understand that there are people out there who are skeptical," she said. Chavous encouraged people to do their research and said the pluses outweighed the minuses.

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Winston-Salem's Audrey Chavous is the third $1M winner in the vaccine lottery. She's an incoming freshman at Fayetteville State University.



She said she plans to use her money to fund her education -- she plans to major in psychology and wants to become a therapist -- and maybe treat herself to a shopping spree. But most of it will go into savings, she said.

Chavous is an incoming freshman at Fayetteville State University.

Cooper also applauded private businesses that are requiring workers to get vaccinations. He also encouraged school boards to work to increase vaccinations.

"In the last couple of weeks, we've seen a 42% increase in first shots. This is positive, but we can't stop there," he said. "If you've gotten your shot, continue talking with your friends and family about why they need to get a vaccine too."

The winner of the third student scholarship was not announced Wednesday. Officials said they were still trying to get in contact with the winner.

12:50 p.m.
Cases, hospitalizations and the percent of positivity in North Carolina were all higher on Wednesday than on this day last year.

3,413 new COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday with a daily positive test rate of 12.2%. This is the highest percent of positive tests since February 1.

The number of hospitalized people also increased--from 1,465 to 1,580. This marks the second day reporting an increase of more than 100 patients.

Thirty more people died from the virus, increasing the state's pandemic death toll to 13,700.

10:15 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has started issuing $413 million in food assistance payments to nearly 1.1 million eligible children.

The Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer food assistance program allows eligible children to receive a one-time payment of $375 on their family's P-EBT card.

The P-EBT program helps provide assistance to children who receive reduced-price meals at school. The program was approved to continue through the summer and families do not need to apply.

"Children need access to enough healthy food every day to thrive and develop to their full potential, and that need doesn't go away at the end of the school year," said NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being Susan Gale Perry. "These benefits will help hundreds of thousands of North Carolina families buy groceries this summer."

Children who applied for free or reduced-price meals in the summer prior to Aug. 31, 2021 and are approved may be eligible to receive the full summer benefit.

Students who become newly eligible will receive the benefit in late September or October.

For more information, visit the NCDHHS site.

WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Nearly 72,000 children in the United States tested positive for COVID-19 last week, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

That's an increase from 39,000 cases the week before.

Before the spread of the delta variant, children remained largely unaffected by COVID-19. Last week, they made up 19 percent of all COVID-19 cases.

The silver lining is that children still largely avoid the most severe symptoms from the virus. The study found that less than 2 percent of childhood cases of the virus required hospitalization.

SEE ALSO: Unvaccinated people in their 20s and 30s ending up hospitalized with COVID-19, UNC doctor says
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"It is extremely rare to find somebody in the ICU who's been fully vaccinated," said UNC's Dr. David Wohl.



WakeMed said it currently has no children in the hospital with COVID-19. In July, the hospital cared for six children fighting the virus.

UNC Children's Hospital didn't release specific current numbers but said it has treated about 90 children under the age of 12 since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Cape Fear Valley Hospital reported treating at least 11 children in the last three months.

Gov. Roy Cooper will give another update on the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.

Cooper is scheduled to speak at 1:30 p.m. His press conference will be broadcast live on ABC11 and on the ABC11 North Carolina app.

This comes as Cooper continues to push for all eligible citizens to get vaccinated.

Plus, today is the final drawing for the $1 million vaccine lottery. NCDHHS officials will draw the numbers Wednesday morning and alert the winner in the coming days.

Anyone still not vaccinated can get $100 for getting vaccinated at the right place at the right time. From Aug. 4 through Aug. 31, the $100 Summer Cards are available to anyone 18 and older who gets their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a participating site-while supplies last. More information about the participating locations here.
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