RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina, like many other states across the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
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.
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.
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.
Johnston Community College announced it will require masks to be worn indoors, effective immediately and until further notice.
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.
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.
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.
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.