North Carolina records 10,000th COVID-19 death since March

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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10 p.m.
ABC11's Joel Brown spoke to Durham educators looking to adjust following the Senate's passage of Bill 37. The bill requires public schools to offer an option for in-person learning. Meanwhile Durham voted last month to remain all virtual for the rest of the school year.

7:25 p.m.
The Johnston County Board of Education voted 5-1 for Pre-K through Grade 5 to return to Plan A for four days per week beginning March 1. Wednesdays will be used as asynchronous learning days to allow for cleaning. Grades 6 through 12 will remain on Plan B.

4:45 p.m.
The North Carolina Senate passed Senate Bill 37. The bill gives local districts the choice between providing in-person learning under Plan A or Plan B, or a mixture of both.

The bill, called "In-Person Learning Choice for Families," passed the Senate 29-15.

Students with exceptional needs would be provided in-person learning under Plan A if parents choose that option. All families can still select remote learning under the plan.

Last week, Gov. Cooper recommended a return to in-person learning for North Carolina schools.

"For months we've heard from families and students who are clamoring to return to in-person learning. The science and data show that we can reopen schools safely," Sens. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) and Michael Lee (R-New Hanover), chairs of the Senate Education Committee and primary sponsors of the bill, said. "The Governor's empty rhetoric about the importance of in-person instruction does nothing to help kids. The General Assembly is taking decisive action to actually get students back to school."

3:46 p.m.
The family of Aurea Soto Morales visits a memorial tree planted in her honor in front of Creekside Elementary in Durham twice a week. Aurea was only 8 years old when she died from COVID-19 complications in June.

Aurea is one of more than 10,000 North Carolinians with the novel coronavirus who have died.

"I never wish anything like this to happen, because as we've seen, the community has been ravaged by this virus, and we've seen how it's impacted tons of people," said her sister Jennifer Morales, 18. "We know those deaths were someone's sons, daughters, children, their parents, grandparents. They were part of someone's family."

2:45 p.m.
In a news briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen discussed how they are encouraging vaccine providers to ensure equity in who is receiving vaccinations.

"North Carolina is making some progress in improving vaccine access for Black North Carolinians, although we have more to do," Cooper said.

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Gov. Roy Cooper talks about equitable distribution of vaccine in his media briefing Tuesday.



Cohen added that DHHS is asking all vaccine providers to ensure that the percentage of vaccines they administer to historically marginalized populations meet or exceed county population estimates.

Still, both leaders acknowledged that the limiting factor in vaccine equity is the supply.

"Many people have to wait and I know that is frustrating," Cohen said.

Charles Evans, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners chairman and president of the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials encouraged people of color in North Carolina to get vaccinated when it is their turn.

"If we're going to get control of our lives, we have to get vaccinated," Evans said.

1:50 p.m.
The UNC men's basketball team issued a statement Tuesday afternoon apologizing for the team's actions following Saturday's win at Duke.



1:40 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 55 more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total to 10,046 deaths since March 2020. The state also reported 2,786 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases reported in the last 11 months above 800,000.

The dual grim milestones come as the state's percentage of positive tests rose to 9.3% as of Sunday, the highest the metric has been in six days.

For the first time in two weeks, North Carolina hospitals reported an increase in patients with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. On Monday, 2,374 people were hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 35 patients from the day before.

12:05 p.m.
Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, announced it would be building a technology hub in Wake County.

The hub will bring 275 new jobs to the area and be part of a $5 million investment in the area.

10:15 a.m.
Walgreens has reported an outage on its COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling website Tuesday morning.

The company said in a statement, "We're experiencing a temporary outage on our scheduler/website and apologize for the inconvenience. We're working to resolve the matter as soon as possible."

Users logging onto the website were directed to a page saying "Updates in progress."

The outage comes as U.S. pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS are getting ready for an additional one million doses of vaccine promised by the White House last week.

5:50 a.m.
Durham County announced plans for a mass vaccination site will have to be put on hold.

The announcement came during Monday's Durham County Commission meeting.

County health officials said they do not have enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to support the mass vaccination site.

"I am confident when supplies become more robust, that is going to go back on," Durham County Health Director Rodney Jenkins said.

TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to give another COVID-19 update starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Cooper will be joined by state health officials to talk about the next steps in the race to vaccinate you and your loved ones against COVID-19.

That comes as Walgreens begins booking appointments ahead of the arrival of its first doses of the vaccine.

Walgreens plans to send out 1 million doses to its locations across the country, including 31,000 to 300 stores in North Carolina. The doses should arrive Thursday and vaccinations could begin as early as Friday.

Appointments are only available to those eligible according to NCDHHS's current vaccine group. For now, that includes healthcare workers and people 65 or older.

If you qualify, go to Walgreens.com to sign up for an appointment.

Meanwhile, students are getting ready to return to the classroom in Wake County. WCPSS laid out new lunchtime changes meant to help slow the spread of the virus.

All students and staff will be required to sit six feet apart while eating and drinking. To accommodate, some students will eat in the cafeteria, while others will eat in classrooms.

Schools are also designating areas where students can remove their masks to take water breaks throughout the day.

All this comes as North Carolina continues to see improvements to key COVID-19 metrics.

For the 13th straight day, fewer people are in hospitals being treated for the virus. The percentage of tests coming back positive was at 8.6%, which is higher than the last couple days but lower than last week.

MONDAY
10:30 p.m.
Duke has reported a COVID-19 cluster connected to an off-campus birthday party at BullHouse Apartments on East Pettigrew Street.



4:35 p.m.
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that the Miami at North Carolina men's basketball game will be postponed. The game was supposed to be played tonight at 7 p.m.

The postponement follows "a meeting of personnel from both schools, who mutually concluded the game could not move forward."

"We are disappointed that tonight's game against Miami is postponed and hope that every effort will be made to re-schedule the game," UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham said.

4:20 p.m.
Appointments for Thursday's mass vaccination clinic at PNC Arena are already scheduled with Saturday appointments being scheduled.

PNC Arena's 8,000-space parking lot will be converted into a drive-thru, appointment-only clinic two days this week. There are 2,150 appointments being scheduled at the PNC Arena Clinic for health care workers and people 65 and older.

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PNC Arena's 8,000-space parking lot will be converted into a drive-thru, appointment-only clinic two days this week. There are 2,150 appointments being scheduled at the PNC Arena Clinic for health care workers and people 65 and older.



The PNC Arena clinic is a partnership between Wake County Public Health, PNC Arena, WakeMed Health & Hospitals, UNC Rex Healthcare and Duke Raleigh Hospital.

This is an invitation-only event, and Wake County is reaching out to people on its vaccine waitlist to schedule an appointment, and they must confirm to get a spot. But not everybody will be contacted. That's because there are more than 100,000 people are on the county's waitlist and there's a limited vaccine supply.

"We're excited to have received some extra doses this week, to be able to open PNC, but yet again, we're still in a position where the total number of supply is not enough to be able to give everyone the vaccine," said Wake County Mass Vaccination Branch Director Ryan Jury.

The county is confident it can administer at least 10,000 doses at PNC Arena during a 4-day period. The county is asking the state for more vaccine so it can do that in the future.

"We have already requested and sent those applications for event doses," Jury said. "And we've been, in essence, communicating with the state about what our capacity is and what our options are so, yes, we've applied for those and it would be up to the state to determine whether or not those doses can come or not."

As of Sunday night, Wake County has administered 12,283 first doses, according to a county spokesperson.

"We understand that in terms of number of doses per person, Wake County is in the bottom percentiles in terms of total doses per person and so our hope is that by submitting these requests and suggesting to the state that we can take more vaccine that hopefully more doses will come to the county in the coming weeks," Jury said.

The PNC Arena clinic is in addition to Wake County's other vaccination sites.

"It is an outdoor model and is also drive-thru but we recognize that that may not be the best for everyone and so we also have indoor mass vaccination clinics as well," Jury said. "And so it's just kind of a comprehensive offering to the community and those who get invited to schedule an appointment, they can kind of choose the location that best fits them and what would work best for them."

If you don't have a car, you can walk up as long as you have an appointment. A shuttle is being provided between a GoRaleigh bus stop and PNC Arena.

12:55 p.m.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 41,210,937 vaccine doses have been administered nationwide.

In total,10% of the population (31.6 million people) has received 1 or more doses and 3% of the population (9.1 million people) has received 2 doses.

24,685,656 doses have been reported since January 20, 2021.

12 p.m.

Monday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services included 3,084 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. There were a total of 2,339 people in the hospital with COVID-19 on Sunday, the 13th straight day that hospitalizations have decreased. In the last month, North Carolina hospitals have reported 1,621 fewer people hospitalized with COVID-19.

The daily percent positive rate was 8.6% -- the fifth day in a row this metric has remained below 10%--and the number of deaths reported since March is 9,991.
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