North Carolina sees lowest increase in new COVID-19 cases since Dec. 27

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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Vaccine Q&A: Who are considered essential workers in NC?

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Dr. Leah Devlin, who serves on the NC Institute of Medicine COVID-19 Vaccine Committee, answers questions about the vaccine rollout in North Carolina.

11 p.m.
Duke University Hospital family medicine physician Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi has been working to drive COVID-19 vaccine equity and acknowledges more people need to see more people from underserved communities getting vaccinated.

Dr. Martinez-Bianchi also said the bottom line is there isn't enough vaccine right now but more equality in vaccine demographics is incumbent on healthcare providers building trust.

"We need to start thinking about what are the reasons people hesitate: Is it that they're hesitant or is it that health systems government public health haven't earned people's trust," asked Dr. Martinez-Bianchi. "We also should be thinking about who are those people that are most vulnerable, which are the populations most affected by COVID-19 in our country and this population is the one who should be receiving the vaccine."

According to CDC data, during the first month of vaccinations, around 13 million people received at least one dose. Of those, 63% were women and 55% were 50 or older. Race and ethnicity data is unknown for half of people who got a first dose. Among the known data, 60.4% of the people who got a first dose were white, 11.5% were Latino, 5% were Black and 6% were Asian.

"When you see more people like you being vaccinated and being okay with it, you're going to be able to trust it," said Dr. Martinez-Bianchi.

Mike Pope has a date to get vaccinated at the Durham VA next week and feels more comfortable after seeing people get it on television.

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Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi has been working to drive COVID-19 vaccine equity and acknowledges more people need to see more people from underserved communities getting vaccinated.

"Just to see other people taking it and not hearing anything bad coming it from it. Sure a few people have gotten sick but it was nothing major," said Pope.

Pope blames current vaccine disparities on hesitancy and timing.

6:30 p.m.
Coming off the heels of a weekend mass vaccination event at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, Triangle health leaders continue to discuss ways to bring such an event to the area.

"We definitely are working our partnerships in the community and with the hospitals on a high-capacity site," said a Wake County representative told ABC11's DeJuan Hoggard.

In total, the county has received 83,046 requests have been made for vaccinations since registrations opened on Jan. 19.

Recently, Wake County officials announced they would receive 3,900 doses of the vaccine weekly for the next three weeks.

"We can only vaccinate people we have vaccines for," the representative said.

Officials declined to comment on if Carter-Finely Stadium, PNC Arena, or another large venue would serve as a potential site.

Delays in receiving vaccines have long plagued health leaders at the state and local levels.

Triangle health leaders say partnerships with outside organizations help make large-scale events, such as the Bank of America Stadium mass vaccination, a reality.

Monday afternoon, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis announced a $100 million dollar grant by FEMA to help with vaccine distribution efforts in North Carolina.

"The COVID-19 vaccine must be distributed in a timely and effective manner, and I'm confident that this grant will help make it possible. With every administered vaccine, North Carolina gets one step closer to defeating this virus, which is why I'm pleased to announce this funding for our state's vaccine distribution operation," Sen. Tillis said in a release.

5:30 p.m.
Senate Republicans filed a bill Monday to get students back into school following nearly a year of remote learning.

Senate Bill 37, also known as "In-Person Learning Choice for Families," requires schools to provide access to in-person learning under Plan A (minimal social distancing) for students with exceptional needs.

The bill also requires schools to provide in-person learning options for all K-12 students under either Plan A or Plan B (moderate social distancing). Families would still have a choice of remote learning for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.

Schools will be required to follow guidance from the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit, which was developed by the NCDHHS.

Duke, UNC study finds low rates of in-school COVID transmission

"Our students need to be in school, there's no question about that. We can get them back into classrooms safely. Students are suffering and parents are watching their children fall behind in their learning, worrying that they'll never catch up," Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) said. "This legislation balances students' needs, public health guidelines, and parental choice. In order to stymie the ramifications of learning loss, we need to give these families an option for in-class instruction."

Senate Bill 37 is scheduled to be heard Tuesday.

4:15 p.m.
North Carolina has administered one million COVID-19 vaccine doses. This milestone was reported this past Friday.

Starting Monday, the state's dashboard will be updated each weekday so North Carolinians can track the state's administration of vaccines.

"I am so grateful to our vaccine partners across the state who continue working in innovative ways to make sure North Carolinians have a spot to take their shot. It is incumbent on all of us to use the limited supply of vaccine we have as quickly and equitably as possible, finding new ways to meet people where they are," said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

12:15 p.m.
Anyone using public transportation will be required to wear a mask starting at midnight tonight.

The order came from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and it includes travel via buses, trains, taxis, airplanes, boats, subways or rideshare vehicles while traveling into, within and out of the United States.

"Because of the pandemic everybody should be wearing masks anyway. So I think wearing a mask on public transportation's really good. Everybody's in a tight area and there's limited capacity anyway, so wearing a mask I think is a good thing," Justin Zhao said.

The new order also includes TSA screening checkpoints.

The mask worn at these locations must fit snugly and cover your nose and mouth. Children under 2 years of age are exempt from the order, as well as those who are physically unable to wear a mask.

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A new federal order will require mask to be worn in all public modes of transportation.

11:50 a.m.
An additional 3,776 COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. That number is the lowest increase in over a month, dating back to Dec. 27.

There was one less hospitalization (2,781) reported on Monday compared to Sunday and seven more deaths, bringing the total to 9,342 with 95% of the state's hospitals reporting. The daily percent positive rate was 9.7%.

More statistics can be found on the state's COVID-19 dashboard.

11:15 a.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen will host a fireside chat with Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II on Tuesday to talk about the state's COVID-19 vaccination plan.

The chat will be the first of a series that will be live-streamed and provide updates on the state's response to the pandemic. Talks will feature health experts, community leaders and others who serve historically marginalized populations and rural communities. Tuesday's chat starts at 5:30 p.m. and is can be seen on the NCDHHS Facebook and Twitter pages.


A weekly 3,900 doses of the COVID-19 vaccination are headed to Wake County as part of the supply allocated to the state. The extra doses should help some of the 80,000 in the county who have signed up for vaccination.

"This is really positive news, that we'll be able to get more doses to more individuals who live and work in Wake County," said Ryan Jury with the Wake County Health Department. "So we're ecstatic about that."

Jury said the county will get 3,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses a week for the next three weeks, totaling 11,700 doses.

People registered on the waitlist should be notified soon as to when they'll be able to get the vaccine. You don't have to live in Wake County to get a vaccine in the county.

COVID-19 testing is coming to a trio of Raleigh parks this week. Starting Monday, testing is available at Sanderford Road park, Carolina Pines Park and Lions Park starting at 11 a.m.

State educators are rallying in Raleigh on Monday to ask lawmakers for immediate vaccinations for all public school teachers as part of a "Valentine's Wish List."

The President of Moderna, Dr. Stephen Hodge, will be interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America on Monday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported just 10 out of the more than four million people who got the first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had a severe allergic reaction.

The White House will hold a COVID-19 briefing Monday at 11 a.m.


2:45 p.m.
Wake County officials said the county will get 3,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses a week for the next three weeks, totaling 11,700 doses.

"We have about 80,000 people who have said 'We want the vaccine.' And so we know who they are, their names are counted," said mass vaccination director Ryan Jury. "We could go to the state and say, 'Hey, this number of people are on our registry.'"

Those registered on the county waitlist should get a notification soon.

1 p.m.
North Carolina is reporting 4,899 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the to-date total statewide to 757,526.

Throughout the state, 48 more people have died from the virus. That brings the total to 9,335.

2,782 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout North Carolina. That is down 101 from Saturday.

The state's percent positive rate of tests is currently 8.5%, which is up slightly from Saturday's 8.4%.

11:45 a.m.

Due to Sunday's winter weather, drive-thru Wake County COVID-19 test sites will be closed.

7:30 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 26,075,932 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.


5:15 p.m.
The Wake County Health Department announced that it will be closing all of its drive-thru testing sites due to winter weather; testing will resume on Monday.

Seven different testing sites will resume on Monday, two of which will open at 7 a.m.

Park testing will resume on Monday, Feb. 1 through Sunday, Feb. 7 at Sanderford Road Park, Carolina Pines Park and Lions Park.

Four other parks will continue to run permanent drive-thru testing at Zebulon Community Park, Swinburne Parking Lot, Radeas Labs and Departure Drive

For the latest on Wake County testing, check here.

3 p.m.
North Carolina will be receiving $103 million for the costs of COVID-19 vaccines thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"This funding will help the state distribute and administer COVID-19 vaccinations to more North Carolinians," Gracia Szczech, the regional administrator for FEMA Region IV wrote in a statement. "We have been working closely with our state partners since the onset of the pandemic, and these dollars will assist with their ongoing efforts."

The costs cover:
  • Equipment and supplies needed for storing, handling, and distributing vaccines;
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and patients;
  • Leasing facilities for storing and administering vaccines;
  • Additional medical and support staff, including facility infection control measures;
  • Emergency medical care;
  • Equipment for the safe disposal of medical waste;
  • Communications to disseminate public information.

11:55 a.m.
South Carolina health officials have reported the first known case of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom.

A case of the variant was detected in North Carolina last weekend.

11:45 a.m.
North Carolina is reporting 6,168 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total statewide to 752,627.

Throughout the state, 130 more people have died from the virus. That brings the total to 9,287.

With 97 percent of hospitals reporting, 2,883 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19 throughout North Carolina. That is down 165 from Friday. This is the first time North Carolina COVID-19 hospitalizations have been below 3,000 since late December.

The state's percent positive rate of tests is currently 8.4%, which is down slightly from Friday's 8.7%.

7:15 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 25,934,201 COVID-19 cases since March.

CDC says travelers must wear masks on all forms of public transportation to slow spread of COVID-19
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