Gov. Cooper gives update on NC's COVID-19 response

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

5:30 p.m.
Starting Wednesday, the Moore County Health Department will begin offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments to anyone age 18 or older. Appointments will also be available to anyone ages 16-17 if they are accompanied by their legal guardian.

To schedule a vaccine appointment, please call (910) 947-SHOT (7468) between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on ednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The Health Department's appointment phone line will remain open until all available appointment slots are filled each week. The number of appointment slots will be based on the number of vaccine doses on hand. Appointments will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. An appointment is required for all Moore County Health Department vaccine clinics. Due to volume and vaccine availability, vaccine clinics cannot accommodate walk-ins.

Vaccine clinics will be held at the Moore County Health Department, 705 Pinehurst Ave., Carthage, and at the Moore County Agricultural Center, 707 Pinehurst Ave., in Carthage.

3:39 p.m.
The 4th Fighter Wing Medical Group is hosting a COVID-19 mass vaccine line at the Seymour Johnson Fitness Center for specific groups of authorized TRICARE beneficiaries to include active duty military, guard and reserve members, military dependents, and military retirees.

On Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to noon, first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be offered for all eligible persons aged 16 and older. On Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be offered for all eligible persons aged 16 and older.

On both Thursday and Friday, second doses will be offered for persons who received their first Pfizer vaccine on or before March 5.

2 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in light of continued vaccination efforts and improving metrics.

The alcohol curfew will be eliminated beginning Friday, which will allow restaurants and bars to sell adult beverages any time they choose.

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The alcohol curfew will be eliminated beginning Friday, which will allow restaurants and bars to sell adult beverages any time they choose.

Moreover, business capacity limits will be reduced -- with some businesses being allowed to reopen at 100 percent capacity.

Cooper said his next Executive Order begins Friday at 5 p.m. as he further eased restrictions across the state.

Another cause for optimism is North Carolina's success with vaccination, Cooper said.

North Carolina is continuing to see "fast and fair vaccine distribution," the governor said. To date, the state has administered over 4.1 million doses. Over 31.7 percent of people 18 and older have received at least one dose, and 18.8 percent are fully vaccinated. Vaccine equity efforts remain a priority, with 18 percent of first doses administered to Black North Carolinians and 8 percent to Hispanic residents last week.

NCDHHS also released updates to the K-12 guidance. Schools should return to in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible while following all public health protocols in the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit. This update aligns with Session Law 2021-4, which Cooper and bipartisan legislative leadership worked on together. Plan A has already been widely adopted across the state as districts, educators and support staff have worked hard to get students back in the classroom.

1:45 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Universal Healthcare North Raleigh at 5201 Clarks Fork Drive.

This is the third outbreak at this facility. The previous outbreaks occurred in July and November.

12:59 p.m.

The Halifax County Health Department reports five new cases for a total of 5,115 positive COVID-19 cases. There have been 103 deaths countywide since the start of the pandemic.

11:50 a.m.
Tuesday's report from the NCDHHS included 1,062 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. There are 954 hospitalizations; 32 more people than yesterday.

The daily percent positive rate was 6.3% and 18 more deaths were reported.

In the state, 11,854 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to give a public update to the COVID-19 pandemic and the race to vaccinate in the state today at 2 p.m.

The governor's announcement comes as more schools offer in-person classes to all students. Wake County Public School System and Johnston County Schools both announced plans Monday to have all students back in the classroom in April.

Students would still be required to wear masks and follow other safety protocols, and families can opt to remain in virtual academies if they want.

Cape Fear Valley Health said it is opening vaccine appointments to anyone 16 or older. This comes before the state makes that same move.

The health department said it needs to do this in order to not waste its weekly allotment of vaccine doses.

The entire state of North Carolina administered more than 439,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses last week. More than 2.3 million have received at least one dose of the vaccine in North Carolina--that's about 22 percent of the population.

Around 1.4 million people--or 14 percent of the population--are fully vaccinated.

6:30 p.m.
Johnston County school officials voted Monday to return all students to Plan A.

Grades 6-12 will return to classrooms effective April 12. Students will attend face-to-face instruction every day except Wednesdays.

Parents will be contacted by Wednesday, March 24 by their school with specific instructions.

5:30 p.m.
Lee County health officials are reporting 46 new COVID-19 cases since last Monday, bringing the total to 5,595 cases since the pandemic started.

5:25 p.m.
Duke Health officials said a group of COVID-19 cases has been traced back to the fifth-floor inpatient unit at Duke Raleigh Hospital. Cases include both staff and patients.

Officials say contract tracing has been initiated to identify any other potential exposures.

"Duke Health is committed to the safety of our patients, their loved ones and our staff members," officials said. "We are working to conduct additional COVID-19 tests, complete a deep clean of the unit, and temporarily restricting visitations to this unit until the full cleaning and review process is complete, which is expected later this week."

1:03 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 22 new cases for a total of 5,110 positive COVID-19 cases. In total, 103 deaths have occured countywide.

12:55 p.m.
Monday's report from the NCDHHS included 1,248 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. 924 people are currently hospitalized.

The daily percent positive rate was 5.8%.

Sadly, 11,836 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

Duke University students head back to class Monday after a COVID-19 shutdown that followed a spike in cases.

The COVID-19 spike was linked to off-campus fraternity events, but Duke leaders said since the shutdown, cases have dropped dramatically.

Still, to be safe, the university is asking students living on campus to only leave campus for essential travel. Students who live off campus are asked to only visit campus to attend classes.

In the race to vaccinate, AstraZenica released data showing its vaccine is 79 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.

AstraZenica is in phase three of trials in the US. It is not yet authorized for use here, but the FDA's review is expected soon.

A new surge of COVID-19 could be coming soon as more people begin to travel.

TSA reports 1.5 million travelers went through airports Friday, and Spring Break is believed to be the cause.

Video out of Miami Beach shows large unmasked crowds partying through the streets--SWAT teams had to be called in to try and contain the chaos.

Florida authorities report arresting more than 1,000 people since February 3, when Spring Breakers started arriving in large numbers. The majority of those arrests are of people who are not from Florida.

Internal government documents show that Miami saw the highest COVID-19 positivity rate of any metro area in the entire country last week.

"What we're going to see is people get infected, pick up the infection from each other, and then spread it across the country and possibly around the world," Dr. Ashish Jha said.
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