RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 294 new cases for a total of 1,013,207 in the state since the start of the pandemic.
The number of new cases is higher than the previous two Mondays but still low. The percent positive stands at 2.7%, also slightly higher than the 2.4% reported the previous two Mondays.
Hospitalizations stand at 368, 59 fewer people since Friday. It's the third consecutive day under 400.
Eight deaths have been reported since Friday for a total of 13,420 since March 2020.
At least 45% of the state's population is partially vaccinated and 42% is fully vaccinated.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced that a Winston-Salem woman is the first winner of the Your Shot at a Million Summer Cash drawing and will take home $1 million before taxes.
Shelly Wyramon is a mother of three and has 20 years of teaching experience. She and her husband, Bill, and their children joined Cooper at the announcement.
"Now here's a good one for you about Shelly," Cooper said. "When DHHS first called to tell her she was a winner, she didn't believe it. She wasn't convinced until she got on a video call with Dr. Cohen. As the former Attorney General of NC, it's good that Shelly had her guard up to avoid scams."
Wyramon said protecting her elderly parents played into her decision to get vaccinated.
"We have elderly parents and wanted to protect their health and safety as well as our own and others from COVID-19," Wyramon said. "
State officials randomly drew the names of the $1 million winners and a $125,000 scholarship winner last Wednesday.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen followed Cooper by announcing that Vania Martinez, 14, of Wilmington, was the first winner of the Cash for College $125,000 scholarship.
Vania said she had started a summer job to save for college.
"I knew it would be hard for my mom to pay for me to go to college, so I started saving the money I make at my summer job," Martinez said. "Now I know for sure I'll have money to pay for college and this means a lot to my mom and me."
The governor opened his announcement by urging residents to get vaccinated.
"Everybody who has gotten a shot has a reason," Cooper said. "I got mine so I could safely hug my daughters and get back to traveling across the state, meeting face to face with North Carolinians from all over."
The governor reminded residents that they can still win cash just for getting vaccinated.
"Remember, we still have three more million-dollar drawings and three more college scholarship drawings for ages 12-17," Cooper said. "You're automatically entered if you've gotten your shot, and you're entered twice if you got your shot after we announced this contest.
Thrown off-stride to reach its COVID-19 vaccination goal, the Biden administration is sending A-list officials across the country, devising ads for niche markets and enlisting community organizers to persuade unvaccinated people to get a shot.
The strategy has the trappings of a political campaign, complete with data crunching to identify groups that can be won over.
But the message is about public health, not ideology. The focus is a group health officials term the "movable middle" - some 55 million unvaccinated adults seen as persuadable, many of them under 30.
"We're not just going to do the mass vaccination sites," said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. "It's door to door. It's mobile clinics. We're doing vaccinations at church, the PTA meeting, the barber shop, the grocery store."
Officials have seized on a compelling new talking point, courtesy of the coronavirus. The potent delta variant that has ravaged India is spreading here. Now accounting for about 1 in 5 virus samples genetically decoded in the U.S., the more transmissible mutation has gained a foothold in Mountain West and heartland states. Many of those infected are young and unvaccinated.
The White House has lent its top names to the vaccine push.
President Joe Biden visited a mobile vaccination site in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday. Earlier in the day, first lady Jill Biden held the hand of a woman at a drive-thru vaccination site in Kissimmee, Florida.
Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, has racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles, visiting at least 18 or 19 states by his count.
The administration also has recruited celebrities and athletes, including country music star Brad Paisley and the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. It has teamed up with Twitch and Riot Games to reach online gamers and with Panera and Chipotle to offer free food to those getting a shot.
The message, as Surgeon General Vivek Murthy put it: "If you are vaccinated, you are protected. If you are not, the threat of variants is real and growing."
It's unclear how well the levers of persuasion are functioning. Vaccination rates have dropped below 1 million a day, and there's no sign yet of a turnaround. The administration has acknowledged that it will fall short of its goal of having 70% of adults vaccinated by July Fourth.
At this point, about 170 million American adults have received at least one vaccine dose, representing roughly two-thirds of those 18 and older.
MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES
The first two winners of the North Carolina COVID-19 vaccine lottery will be announced Monday.
State officials randomly drew the names of the $1 million winners and a $125,000 scholarship winner last Wednesday, June 23. The winners' names will be announced at 10 a.m.
Nearly 5 million entries have made it into the $1 million drawing and 348,000 have been entered into the scholarship drawing, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told ABC11 Wednesday.
Winners for the $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings will be drawn every other Wednesday through Aug. 4 and will be announced when verified.
Less than half of North Carolinians eligible for a coronavirus shot are fully vaccinated, even though there are more than 2.1 million doses waiting on shelves for residents to take.
North Carolina ranks 12th worst in the nation in vaccines administered per capita, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The head of the World Health Organization said the COVID-19 variant first seen in India, also known as the delta variant, is "the most transmissible of the variants identified so far" and that it is now spreading in at least 85 countries.
At a press briefing on Friday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the U.N. agency was concerned about it's the increasing reach of the delta variant, particularly among unvaccinated populations.
"We are starting to see increases in transmission around the world," Tedros said, adding that "more cases means more hospitalizations...which increases the risk of death." WHO has previously said that two doses of the licensed COVID-19 vaccines appear to provide strong protection against the variant first seen in India, but warned the lack of access to vaccines in poor countries - which have received fewer than 2% of the billion doses administered so far - makes them extremely vulnerable.
Tedros also said the unchecked circulation of the coronavirus could lead to the emergence of even more variants.
"New variants are expected and will continue to be reported," Tedros said. "That's what viruses do. They evolve," he said. "But we can prevent the emergence of variants by preventing transmission."
The head of the World Health Organization lamented the lack of coronavirus vaccines being immediately donated by rich countries to the developing world.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday that there was nothing to discuss during a recent meeting of an advisory group established to allocate vaccines.
In his words: "There are no vaccines to allocate."
Tedros says concerns being raised by some donors that African countries don't have the infrastructure to deliver vaccines or that there are vaccine hesitancy problems are inconsequential. He criticized rich countries that may be using that as a "pretext" not to donate vaccines.
Less than half of North Carolinians eligible for a COVID-19 shot are fully vaccinated even though there are more than 2.1 million doses waiting on shelves for residents to take. Less than 118,000 residents came in for a first dose in the two weeks since the state announced four $1 million prizes would be given out to vaccinated adult. North Carolina ranks 12th-worst in the nation in vaccines administered per capita. It is second-worst among states with a Democratic governor. Those lagging numbers were the context under which President Joe Biden visited Raleigh on Thursday to urge North Carolinians to come in for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is going to close the vaccination site at the Crown Coliseum on June 30.
The health department said they are doing that so they can focus vaccination efforts in other areas of the county.
The Health Department will continue to host vaccination clinics at the Health Department located at 1235 Ramsey Street in Fayetteville. It will also continue community outreach.
"Closing the Crown Coliseum is a natural next step for us in this pandemic as our numbers at the Crown have steadily declined," said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director. "We look forward to continuing our outreach efforts and meeting the community where they are."
Bladen County's low vaccination rate is leading to COVID-19 spread, NCDHHS said on Friday.
The county has a vaccination rate of only 33%.
The health department said the county is experiencing critical viral spread and increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The COVID-19 County Alert System report shows the county is now red.
"What's happening in Bladen County is preventable," said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "More than 99% of new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are in people who are not fully vaccinated. Vaccines are working."
According to NCDHHS, in the past 3 weeks, nearly 60% of new cases in Bladen County have been associated with a COVID-19 cluster in one zip code, the Bladenboro community. At this time, there have been approximately 81 cases and one death linked to that area, officials said. More than 64% of cases are in people age 49 and younger, and overall 63% of cases are among white people and 15% are among Black/African American people.
"Bladen County Health Department will continue to make sure it is easy and convenient to get your COVID-19 vaccine in our communities," said Terri Duncan, health director. "The vaccine is safe, free, and effective, and it will help prevent more people in our county from dying from this disease. If you haven't gotten your shot yet, now is the time."
388 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday.
The percent of positive tests in the state is at 1.9%.
427 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
So far, 13,412 people have died from COVID-19 in North Carolina.
55% of the adult population in the state has at least one dose of the vaccine.
Flight Day returns to Dix Park this weekend.
Bring your kites or other homemade flying machines for a fun afternoon with YMCA guides.
The event is from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Tickets are available here, but they are not required.
The event will feature food trucks and pets are welcome (as long as they are on a leash).
Flight Day is an annual event, but like many, it was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
President Joe Biden spent a few hours in Raleigh on Thursday, at a campaign-like event where he encouraged more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The president praised the effectiveness of the vaccines and the hard work of health care officials to get vaccines into arms.
However, the country remains shy of the vaccination goal of 70% that Biden set weeks ago. The White House has since said it doesn't expect to reach that goal.
He also stressed the importance of the vaccine in slowing the Delta variant of COVID-19.
"This new, dangerous variant continues to emerge," Biden said. "It's now the most common variant in America and here (in North Carolina). And unvaccinated people are incredibly vulnerable."
President Joe Biden arrived in Raleigh just about 15 minutes later than expected Thursday afternoon.
The 46th President of the United States was scheduled to arrive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport at 3:30 p.m. However, he was slightly delayed, as the president spoke around 2 p.m. about a new bipartisan infrastructure deal.
He scheduled this visit to encourage more people in our state to get vaccinated.
The Halifax County Health Department reports just two new cases since June 17 for a total of 5,679 total positive COVID-19 cases.
Two additional deaths were reported in the last week and the county total stands at 114.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said there are 394 new cases.
The daily percent positive stands at a satisfactory 2.1%. In all, 55% of the state's adult population is at least partially vaccinated.
There have been 13,408 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Shaw University is eliminating outstanding balances for students who owed money for summer classes.
The HBCU in Raleigh cited hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the generosity.
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The national eviction moratorium designed to help tenants unable to may rent payments during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended.
The moratorium was scheduled to end June 30, but the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that the moratorium would be extended until July 31.
The White House said the eviction moratorium is designed to be temporary but hasn't revealed exactly how to transition away from it without massive social upheaval.
An advisory panel at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 booster shots may not be necessary.
The panel said at this time there is not enough evidence to support recommending booster doses for any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines.
The experts on that panel said that could change as more data becomes available--including research on the spread of COVID variants and how well doses protect people long-term.
Top officials for the companies who produced the vaccines have previously said booster shots will likely be needed.
One lucky North Carolinian is $1 million richer this morning, but that person's identity remains a mystery.
The state held its first ever vaccination lottery Wednesday. Officials used a random number generator to pick a winner from the pool of people vaccinated against COVID-19.
State health officials then had to figure out who corresponds with that randomly generated number and double check that the person is eligible to win the money.
Once that's done the state will contact the winner via email or phone.
The process could take several days, but whoever does win will be required to let the state publicly identify them.
Free food is being handed out Thursday to any family in need.
It's happening at Carrboro High School between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Officials with Orange County and the Town of Carrboro will be placing boxes of food in trunks of cars.
The drive-thru event is open to any family in need.
Face masks will also be given to anyone who asks for them.