Technical glitch causes issues with North Carolina COVID-19 case, test reporting

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

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? Send them to us here

NCDHHS' Your Spot, Your Shot information

11:15 p.m.
NC State has identified a COVID-19 cluster within its athletics department.

The university, while not disclosing the number infected, says all who tested positive are being isolated and close contacts are quarantined.

A "cluster" as defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is five or more cases that are deemed lose proximity or location.

5:16 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 41 new cases for a total of 3,541 total positive COVID 19 cases. Two additional deaths were added, for a total of 59.

4:50 p.m.
Sampson County Health Department staffers spent the day working at their vaccination clinic, which was very successful, the department said.

About 600 residents received vaccines.

4:40 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at The Retreat at Cary Corner Family Home, an assisted living facility at 10108 Penny Road in Raleigh.

This is the first outbreak at this facility. No additional information about residents or employees within the facility will be disclosed.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people - residents or employees - testing positive for the virus.

3:15 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health now offers residents who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a and Phase 1b, Group 1 (ages 75 years and older), the option of requesting appointment slots for drive-thru clinics offered at the Crown Complex on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Health Department will hold a special Saturday clinic on January 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The appointment request form is posted on the County's COVID-19 Vaccine page.

The form requests basic information about the individual seeking an appointment. If the person is eligible under the current vaccination phase, the Health Department will call the person to confirm eligibility and schedule an appointment slot to receive a vaccine. Individuals can expect to receive a call from the Health Department staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment slot. The department will attempt to call each individual two times.

If you are not eligible for the current phase, you will not be able to schedule an appointment and should wait until your phase opens to try to receive the vaccine.

Because of high call volumes, individuals will not be able to schedule an appointment by calling the Health Department. If you need assistance filling out the appointment request form, call (910) 678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call takers will only assist in filling out the request form. They are not the appointment schedulers.

"We anticipate receiving a large number of requests for appointments and we will contact individuals in the order their forms are received," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

Appointment slots each day will be from 9-11 a.m. and from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. After 1 p.m. each day, the clinics will provide vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis. Traffic lanes will be set up in the Crown parking lot for the designated groups.

The appointment block system will begin on Tuesday. The clinic scheduled for Friday, Jan. 15, will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals should expect long lines on Friday and come prepared to wait. Bring food, water and any medications that may be scheduled. Visit the County's vaccine website for additional instructions.

For more information, call (910) 678-7657.

1:40 p.m.
UNC Health announced this week it opened more than a dozen clinics across North Carolina to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Since last month, UNC Health says it has administered nearly 30,000 vaccine doses, including more than 6,000 second doses to Phase 1a frontline health workers.

Most of the appointment-only sites, such as the largest one at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, opened Monday and began administering vaccines to those in Phase 1b, Group 1 - anyone 75 years and older. The clinics are expected to vaccinate thousands of patients a week, based on the availability of vaccines.

"UNC Health is committed to be a leader in the fight to conquer this virus and end the pandemic," said Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health, the state's largest academic health system.

"I'm incredibly proud of our teams that set up these vaccination clinics so quickly," Burks said. "Our mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all North Carolinians, and this is another tool in that effort. Since this pandemic began nearly a year ago, UNC Health co-workers have worked tirelessly to treat patients, save lives, find innovative treatments, and now provide these vaccines."

New high-throughput vaccination sites announced this week include:

  • Forsyth County

  • Albemarle

  • Vidant - Eastern sites

  • Cone - Guilford

  • Atrium - Charlotte and surrounding counties

  • UNC - Orange County

  • Duke - Durham
  • WakeMed - Wake County

  • Western NC Collaboration with Dogwood, Mahec and FQHCs


These sites could add a potential of 45,500 weekly vaccinations.

12:25 p.m.
UNC has identified a COVID-19 cluster at Carmichael Residence Hall. The university said the cluster involves students who lived in Carmichael over winter break that were identified through evaluation testing.

A "cluster" is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases that are deemed to be in close physical proximity in location.

12:15 p.m.
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have hit another one-day high at over 4,300 with the country's attention focused largely on the fallout from the deadly uprising at the Capitol. The nation's overall death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. It is closing in fast on the number of Americans killed in World War II, or about 407,000.

11:55 a.m.
A technical glitch on Jan. 12 prevented some laboratory data files from being processed in the NC COVID-19 reporting system, NCDHHS announced. As a result, cases and test data reported on Wednesday were lower than they would have been had all data been processed at the standard time. NCDHHS said data reported on Jan. 14 will be higher as it will incorporate cases that should have been entered into the system on Jan. 12, 2021.

Given that, 5,098 new cases were reported on Wednesday -- the lowest the state has seen since Dec. 29.

3,951 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.

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

An updated number for the percent of positive tests was not provided on Wednesday.

9 a.m.
North Johnston High School will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday.

The Johnston County Health Department scheduled a drive-thru clinic at the school, starting at 10 a.m. The event is expected to draw a big crowd. A similar clinic at West Johnston High School on Tuesday brought out dozens of cars waiting in line before 4 a.m.

The clinic is for those in Phase 1B, Group 1, which includes anyone 75 and older. North Johnston High is at 5915 US Highway 301 North in Kenly.

Meanwhile, many cars were lined up with people awaiting the vaccine in Roxboro on Wednesday morning.

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Cars were lined up all the way out to Durham Road at Palace Point in Roxboro for Wednesday's vaccine clinic.



WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The Person County Health Department has added additional COVID-19 vaccination clinics open Wednesday and Thursday. The clinics are located at the Palace Point parking lot at 5050 Durham Road and start at 10 a.m. For more information, check out the county's website.

The added clinics come after news of Person Memorial Hospital having 89% of ICU beds filled with COVID-19 patients. The Roxboro hospital has the highest percentage of COVID-related hospitalizations in the ABC11 viewing area.

The hospital experienced an average of 89 percent of its ICU beds filled each day, according to the latest federal data.

ABC11 has a comprehensive list of where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina with its vaccine tracker.

The 27610 zip code, which consists of east Raleigh and Garner, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, prompting health leaders to saturate the area with drive-thru vaccine clinics.

The Chapel Hill town council will meet virtually tonight and get an update from the Orange County Health Director. The director will talk about the vaccination effort and UNC officials are expected to talk about second-semester plans for students.

New COVID-19 data for North Carolina is expected to be released around noon Wednesday.

TUESDAY


10:30 p.m.
The Johnston County Board of Education voted 4-3 Tuesday night to return all Pre-K and EC-Self Contained students to Plan B (four days per week) on Jan. 19.

K-12 students will remain on Plan C until Feb. 1. On Feb. 1, students in grades 6-12 will resume Plan B and elementary school students will return to school on Plan B.

Plan B for the district's K-12 student follows a two cohort model. Each cohort attends face-to-face instruction two days per week. The other three days of the week will be remote.

9:45 p.m.
A North Carolina supply chain expert believes vaccine distribution has been slow for many reasons.

NC State supply chain management professor Dr. Robert Handfield says Operation Warp Speed is focused on just the supply of the vaccine, where it is shipped and sent off to but not how it gets distributed.

"They're overwhelmed because they're in hospitals, they're overwhelmed with patients, pharmacies are overwhelmed doing COVID testing and they don't have the staffing or the personnel and you just can't get anyone to do it," said Handfield.

Handfield thinks they should've started backward by starting with patients and working back to get the vaccine out.

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An NC State supply chain expert explains reasons why the vaccine rollout seems so backed up.



"We all think of Amazon and you order stuff online and it comes in a day or two. They never thought about that last mile: that last mile is when that person injects someone with the vaccine," said Handfield.

He says more drive-thrus may help along with the National Guard stepping in.

"They just assumed that the state would be able to do it and the states are overwhelmed, the state's budgets are in tatters because of COVID, they're limited in resources, they're limited in number of people."

Tom Looney, 68, used to run Lenovo in Morrisville and is worried about his 96-year-old mother in New York. He's not sure when she will get the vaccine or when he will in Wake County.

"We've had nine months to come up with a plan so there's no reason for patience," said Looney. "We're the slowest runner in a race with very poor athletes right now."

Looney is impressed with Wake County's testing program but not so much with the vaccine rollout and wants state leaders to get things going

"It's unconscionable how we could be at the bottom five. I don't mind being at the bottom five when it comes to crime but vaccine distribution is really a problem," said Looney.

"To me it's not an excuse that the federal government dropped the ball. This isn't that Wake County or the federal government or North Carolina screwed it. It's a problem. People are sick, people are dying and this thing has been mismanaged at this point," said Looney.

6:30 p.m.
Scheduling for Phase 1B, Group 1 COVID-19 vaccinations opened this week in Moore County for those 75 years old and older. Those who are eligible in this phase have two options for scheduling a vaccination appointment:

If you are 75 years old or older and an established patient at any FirstHealth primary care clinic, Pinehurst Medical Clinic or other Moore County-based primary care clinic, you will receive a phone call from a clinic representative to schedule a vaccination appointment. Vaccination clinics are being held at the Fair Barn in Pinehurst weekly as vaccine availability allows.

Those 75 years or older may also register anytime at www.moorecountync.gov/shot or by calling (910) 947-SHOT (7468) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. Registration is also available anytime in Spanish at www.moorecountync.gov/vacuna or by calling (910) 947-7468 and following the Spanish prompts.

Moore County Health Department officials continue to stress that vaccine supplies are extremely limited and it will take time for those eligible in this phase to be called, scheduled and vaccinated. This week, FirstHealth opened up its scheduling portal for other primary care clinics in Moore County to begin scheduling their patients who are 75 years old or older for the vaccine.

4:47 p.m.
A Neuse Correctional Institution offender with pre-existing medical conditions, who tested positive for COVID-19, has died at a hospital.

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

The offender, who was in his mid-60s, tested positive for COVID-19 on December 18, the same day he was hospitalized. His condition worsened, and he died Monday.

4:40 p.m.

At a hearing, Republican lawmakers questioned what they called the state's slow vaccine rollout.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen told lawmakers that some counties are performing well while others are lagging behind and that the proper time to critique crisis management is not during the crisis.

"The administration had ten months to draft and refine a plan to distribute a vaccine that everybody in the world knew was in development, but they didn't even effectively plan for something as simple as what to do when too many people call asking to schedule their vaccination," Sen. Joyce Krawiec, R-Forsyth, who chaired Tuesday's hearing, said, "The status quo is completely unacceptable, and the failure of the county-centric model was known before planning even began."

Cohen also discussed who is prioritized for vaccination and expressed frustration at changing federal guidelines, according to lawmakers.

Republicans contended that Cohen is the ultimate arbiter of determining who is prioritized.

"The executive branch is now in the unfortunate position of having to build the plane while flying it, which is not a recipe for success," Sen. Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, said. "They must act with urgency to get shots into people's arms. 'Mobilizing' a couple dozen National Guardsmen is clearly not solving the issue."

During the hearing, Cohen said the state may move toward focusing more on age, depending on whether the CDC changes its guidance.

"I support our health departments and want them to succeed," Sen. Jim Burgin, R-Harnett, said. "We need one person in charge making decisions and sticking with them. This isn't up to the federal government, and counties aren't equipped to handle the task. The state executive branch needs to take the reins, make tough calls, and move forward."

3:30 p.m.
In an afternoon news briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper stressed the power and importance of words--both in terms of the violence at the U.S. Capitol building last week and misinformation spread about COVID-19.

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Gov. Roy Cooper stressed the power and importance of words--both in terms of the violence at the U.S. Capitol building last week and misinformation spread about COVID-19.



"More people could be alive today but for dangerous falsehoods that have been spread about the critical importance of masks, social distancing and other common-sense safety rules," Cooper said during the briefing.

He also said it's important to focus on the truths: COVID-19 is spreading fast, people need to follow safety protocols and vaccines are a safe and effective way to save lives.

Cooper said the state government is partnering with 14 health systems, local health departments and community centers in 13 counties to stage several large-scale, high-throughput vaccination events during which leaders expect to give out 45,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to those currently eligible.

"I know many of you are worried about your loved ones and yourselves and you want to get a vaccine as soon as possible," Cooper said. "Vaccine supply across the country is severely limited but the goal is for us here to distribute as quickly as possible all of the vaccines given to North Carolina by the federal government and to be ready for much more."

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen added that in the last week, vaccinations have increased by 113% compared to the week before, with over 100,000 doses given in the last seven days.

WATCH DR. COHEN'S STATEMENTS
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NEWS CONFERENCE: Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said that in the last week vaccinations have increased by 113% compared to the week before.



However, because many vaccination sites still have limited supplies, Cohen said many people in phase 1b and beyond will have to wait for their vaccines.

Cohen also added that while some communities have legitimate reasons to distrust the vaccine due to systemic racism and historic inequities in health care, NCDHHS is partnering with community leaders to encourage people to take the vaccine and disseminate accurate information about it.

Cooper and Cohen both also addressed the latest recommendations from the federal government to expand vaccinations to those 65 and older and people with chronic health care conditions. While both leaders lamented the ever-changing guidelines from federal officials, both said they would look at the recommendations more closely and make a decision in the coming days or weeks.

Three days after North Carolina saw its highest single-day increase in cases, Cooper closed his opening statement with a reiteration of Cohen's warning to stay home except for essential activities.

"After almost a year battling this virus, we must not get numb to the numbers," Cooper said. "They are not just statistics and data points on graph. Behind these cases and these numbers are real people--our neighbors, friends, family members, coworkers, North Carolinians. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives is up to each of us right now. Words are powerful, and it's time to use them for good."

3:26 p.m.
The Chatham County Public Health Department continues its efforts to vaccinate community members against COVID-19. As of January 12, nearly 1,600 Chatham County residents have received their first dose of the vaccine.

This week, both the CCPHD and UNC Health, including its location at Chatham Hospital, began administering vaccinations to adults ages 75 and older (Phase 1b, group 1). Vaccination efforts will focus on this group, along with any Phase 1a individuals who have not yet been vaccinated, in the coming weeks. Updates on the current phase can be found at www.chathamnc.org/coronavirusvaccine.

The CCPHD is scheduling vaccinations for upcoming clinics. This includes a vaccination clinic on January 18 at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center, 1192 US 64 Business West, Pittsboro. To protect the health and safety of residents, staff, and volunteers, and due to limited resources, all vaccinations will be provided by appointment only. Anyone who shows up without an appointment will be turned away.

Both the CCPHD and UNC Health, including locations in Siler City and Chapel Hill, are scheduling appointments. To get an appointment with UNC Health, click here or call (984) 215-5485.

2:24 p.m.
Sampson County reports 73 new cases for a total of 5,587. A total of 72 deaths have been reported, including three since Monday.

Sampson County's drive-thru vaccination event on Wednesday is open ONLY for those persons 75 years of age and older.

Vaccinations at this event are free, but only for Sampson County residents 75 years of age and older. Participants are encouraged to bring verification of date of birth.

Persons receiving the vaccine should plan to remain in a designated "parking/waiting" area for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine for observation by public health staff.

Access to the Sampson Expo Center parking lot will NOT be open until 7:30 am on the 13th. Vaccines will be administered to those eligible until supplies last.

2:05 p.m.
Wake County Public Health will start vaccinating residents ages 75 and older against COVID-19 on Tuesday, January 19. Wake County Public Health said it has made significant progress in vaccinating Phase 1a and is ready to roll into Phase 1b of the process.

"We've taken a major step forward in providing protection to our healthcare workers, and now, we're poised to give the vaccine to our older residents who are at greater risk of serious health problems if they contract the virus," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. "We strongly encourage anyone 75 or older to consider rolling up their sleeves and getting the shots to safeguard themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19."

To avoid long lines, Wake County has built a new tool that will allow residents ages 75 or older to express interest in getting vaccinated, and essentially reserve their place in line. Then, when supply allows, the team will reach out to them to schedule an appointment.

The tool will go live in two ways on January 19. It'll be accessible on the county website and via a special phone line. The county will share the phone number and the web address, as well as more details about the process, as we get closer to January 19.

Wake County Public Health is one of five healthcare providers in the county to receive shipments of the vaccine. The others include the three local hospitals and UNC Wakebrook.

Together, the five entities have received 24,757 doses - with just 3,950 of them going to our Public Health clinic. To date, the county has administered 2,000 doses, with more than 2,000 additional doses scheduled to go in arms over the coming days.

"We're moving quickly to vaccinate as many people as we can, according to the priority order established by the state," said Dr. Jason Wittes, Wake County's Pharmacy Director. "The challenge is we never know how much vaccine we'll get from week to week, which has made planning for all the phases difficult."

Meanwhile, the county will continue answering questions from the community about the vaccine through its COVID-19 hotline - (919) 250-1500 - and its email address - covid19.questions@wakegov.com.

1:46 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Chatham Commons, an assisted living facility at 809 W. Chatham St. in Cary.

This is the first outbreak confirmed at this location. No additional information about residents or employees within the facility will be disclosed.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people - residents or employees - testing positive for the virus.

1:41 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department has secured more vaccine through Vidant North.

COVID 19 vaccinations will be offered at Halifax Community College Building 700 Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. while supplies last. It will continue to vaccinate group 1A and 1B-1 ONLY.

1A group includes health care workers caring for and working directly with patients with COVID-19, including staff responsible for cleaning and maintenance in those areas, health care workers administering the vaccine, long-term care staff and residents - people in skilled nursing facilities and in adult, family and group homes.

1B-1 group includes Anyone 75 years and older.

The Halifax County Health Department also reports 59 new cases for a total of 3,500 total positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 57 deaths in the county.

11:55 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 6,851 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a significant increase from Monday's new number.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state also rose to 3,940, the second-highest total of the pandemic, lower only to Jan.6 when 3,964 were in the hospital. The percent positive testing rate increased to 14.7%, up from Monday's 13.9% and consistent with the rise in cases across the country.

The state's goal for percent positive tests is 5%. There have been more than 635,000 total cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina.

An additional 60 deaths were reported on Tuesday, bringing the total since last March to 7,638. Complete data can be found on the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

11 a.m.
Cumberland County Schools will return to in-person classes on March 15.

Superintendent Marvin Connelly, Jr. presented the plan to the district's board of education during a virtual meeting Tuesday morning.

The board voted in favor of the plan, meaning students will be able to return to schools on March 15.

10:40
President's Trump administration is now asking states to vaccinate people age 65 and over and those under 65 with underlying health conditions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the vaccine production is such that the second dose of the two-shot vaccine can be released without jeopardizing immunization for those who got the first shot.

10:30 a.m.
Duke University has recorded 62 positive COVID-19 results in its latest round of testing as undergraduate students return to campus this week for the spring semester.

Duke administered 7,998 tests to students and 2,289 tests to faculty and staff last week. Of the 62 positive tests, 34 of those belonged to students, who have been placed in quarantine.

Duke is testing all students for COVID-19, regardless of whether they live on or off-campus.

TUESDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The Johnston County Health Department is holding a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Benson on Tuesday.

Cars were lined up at West Johnston High School in Benson before 4 a.m., despite the clinic not being scheduled to start until 10 a.m. One man told ABC11's Anthony Wilson that he had been in line since before midnight.



It's believed the clinic has enough doses for 500. The clinic is for individuals in Phase 1B, Group 1 which includes anyone 75 years or older.

Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to speak Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 with an update on the state's coronavirus response. Gov. Cooper's briefing comes after the state announced 5,936 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. The update will be carried live on ABC11 and abc11.com.

In Durham, more than 30 firefighters across five stations are out for possible COVID-19 exposure.

There have been more than 90 million global cases of the coronavirus since last year, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Chief Justice of the U.S. John Roberts has also gotten both doses.
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