WATCH: Breaking down the vaccination rate in North Carolina counties
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
"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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools also voted unanimously to require masks for students and staff this upcoming semester.
Our students and staff will indeed be wearing masks this year," Jeff Nash said to ABC11 Tuesday evening.
As of Tuesday, Durham, Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Nash, Orange, Wilson and Wake counties are requiring masks this year. Clinton City, Harnett and Johnston counties have made masks optional.
The Wake County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to mandate masks for the upcoming semester.
The universal masking mandate applies to Pre-K through 12th grade.
The board said it will reassess the policy quarterly.
More North Carolinians came in for a COVID-19 vaccine last week than on any given week over the past two months, according to data state health officials released Tuesday.
More than 74,000 people were vaccinated for the first time, an encouraging sign that residents are increasingly taking seriously threats posed by the more contagious delta variant and understanding the benefits of the vaccines, which are free, safe, highly effective and widely available. A push to get young adults vaccinated before the upcoming school year and an increase in the number of employers who are requiring their workers to get the shot are likely also fueling the rise in doses administered.
Vaccine providers at dozens of sites across North Carolina are currently providing $25 to unvaccinated residents who come in for a shot and drivers who bring people in for their initial dose. At a Tuesday news conference, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said his administration will raise that amount to $100 for people who get the shot this month starting on Wednesday, as President Joe Biden recommended. Drivers will still qualify for the $25.
"We are using every tool in the toolbox to get more people to get their shots," Cooper said.
COVID-related hospitalizations have nearly quadrupled in North Carolina over the past month.
Last week, Cooper announced that about 50,000 state employees who work for Cabinet agencies will have to show proof they are fully vaccinated. If they do not, they will be forced to wear a mask in many situations and get tested for COVID-19 every week. The executive order is set to take effect Sept. 1.
Major hospital systems across the state, including WakeMed Health & Hospitals, are requiring workers to get the shot. North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services confirmed last month that 14 state-run health care facilities will require workers and volunteers to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 30 unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows major transmission of the virus throughout North Carolina. In all but seven of the state's 100 counties, the CDC is recommending people wear masks in indoor public settings, even if they're already vaccinated.
NCDHHS announced that the state is now offering $100 Summer Cards at some vaccine sites across the state.
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.
"Vaccination is how we end this pandemic and put our masks away," Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. "The Delta variant is highly contagious, and the vast majority of severe cases are among those who are not vaccinated. We are using every tool in the toolbox to get more people to get their shots- don't wait until it's too late."
North Carolina also continues to offer $25 Summer Cards to those who drive others to their vaccination appointment.
More information about the participating locations here.
2,188 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Tuesday.
The daily percent of positive tests is at 10.8%.
1,465 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That number continues to rise and is the highest it has been in recent months.
13,670 COVID-19 deaths have been reported since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m., NCDHHS, with the help of the NC Education Lottery, will conduct the final random number generator drawings for the Summer Cash Drawing and Summer Cash 4 College Drawing.
New York City will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone who wants to dine indoors at a restaurant, see a performance or go to the gym, making it the first big city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.
The new requirement, which will be phased in over several weeks in August and September, is the most aggressive step the city has taken yet to curb a surge in cases caused by the Delta variant. People will have to show proof that they have had at least one dose of a vaccine.
"The only way to patronize these establishments indoors will be if you're vaccinated," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "The goal here is to convince everyone that this is the time. If we're going to stop the Delta variant, the time is now. And that means getting vaccinated right now."
Legal Aid of North Carolina is seeing strong demand for assistance from residents who cannot afford to pay their rent. The nonprofit law firm that helps low-income renters facing the threat of eviction is inundated with calls and struggling to keep up with demand. Pandemic-induced job loss, a COVID-19 surge fueled by the delta variant and a lack of awareness of state and local rental assistance programs are creating extra cause for concern. The state still has hundreds of millions of unspent dollars available to help cover rental costs. About 1 in 13 North Carolina tenants have no confidence they'll be able to make next month's rent.
Tyson Foods will require all U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1.
"Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the single most effective thing we can do to protect our team members, their families and their communities," Tyson Foods Chief Medical Officer Dr. Claudia Coplein said.
This decision makes Tyson the largest U.S. food company to require COVID-19 vaccines for all its employees.
Every state in the country has seen an increase in its average number of administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
That's according to ABC News' analysis of CDC data from the previous three weeks.
In the final weeks of July, 14 states saw an increase of 100% or more in their first-dose average. All of those states have vaccination totals below the national baseline of eligible Americans who have had one at least shot.
The five states which have seen the most significant increases in their vaccination rates are as follows: Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
To read more about this analysis, click here.
TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Nash County Public Schools is teaming up with UNC Health to boost vaccination rates among students over the age of 12.
The school system is hosting a vaccine clinic at Northern Nash High School from 2-6 p.m. Tuesday.
The clinic will be distributing Pfizer vaccine doses to any student over 12, as well as their parents and any school employee.
That vaccine clinic comes as vaccination rates see a resurgence nationwide as the delta variant continues to send more unvaccinated people to the hospital.
White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients said rates are up more than 200 percent in the hardest hit states.
He said 3 million Americans got their first shot in the past seven days--marking America's highest seven-day vaccine average since July 4. Zients said the biggest increases happened states in the deep south.
"Louisiana has seen a 302% increase in the average number of newly vaccinated per day, Mississippi, 250%, Alabama 215% and Arkansas 206%," Zients said.
Meanwhile, big box stores are tightening their mask guidelines for employees and customers.
Target and Walmart are now requiring all workers to wear a mask and strongly recommending all employees wear a mask in areas where COVID-19 transmission is high.
Both Home Depot and Lowes said it will require all of their associates, contractors and vendors to wear a mask while inside one of their stores, warehouses or other facilities, effective Monday. The rule also applies if the employees are working in a customer's home or business.
CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels by U.S. County
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