North Carolina reports 4,674 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations drop again to 2,378 statewide

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

SUNDAY
11:30 a.m.
North Carolina is reporting 4,674 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 796,195.

Throughout the state, 57 more people have died from the virus, bringing the total to 9,983.

With 95 percent of hospitals reporting, 2,378 are being hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down 90.

The state is reporting a 7.4% positive test rate. That is down slightly from Saturday's 7.8%.

7:15 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 26,918,887 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States since March.

SATURDAY

11:05 a.m.
North Carolina is reporting 4,172 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 791,521.

With 95 percent of hospitals reporting, 2,468 patients remain hospitalized with COVID-19. That is 55 less from Friday.

A total of 9,926 North Carolinians have died from the virus. That is 85 more since Friday.

The state's percent positive test rate is 7.8%, down from Friday's 7.9%.

9:15 a.m.
As of Feb. 6, Mako Medical Laboratories said there are currently five known cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant throughout North Carolina.

The B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom and makes up the majority of reported variant cases.

Mako has also identified one case of a variant called Denmark "cluster five" in North Carolina.

According to the CDC as of Feb. 4, 611 B 1.1.7 cases have been identified across thirty-eight states.

"As we continue our sequencing of indicated samples, we have found a continued rise in variant occurrences," said Steve Hoover, Vice President of Laboratory Operations at MAKO Medical. "Over the past week, indicated samples are now returning positive variant cases at a fifty-percent rate, up from a twenty-five percent rate last week. The information we are collecting is shared directly with state health officials to assist in understanding the presence of the variants in communities across the country."

7:30 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 26,814,845 COVID-19 cases since March.

FRIDAY

5:01 p.m.
PNC Arena will be a mass vaccination site starting Feb. 11. The 8,000-space parking lot will serve as an appointment only drive-thru vaccine clinic.

The site will begin with two days of vaccinations next week, with the goal of inviting more than 2,100 health care workers and those 65 and older from the county's growing COVID-19 vaccine waitlist. That list has received more than 94,000 requests since mid-January.

PNC Arena will be the county's first appointment only drive-up vaccination site. Vaccinations at PNC will happen Feb. 11, followed by another round of appointments on Feb. 13. The site will continue operating in future weeks as vaccine allocations and partnerships allow.

"PNC Arena is a community asset," said Centennial Authority Chairman Thomas McCormick. "As owners of PNC Arena, we are happy to work with our partners, Carolina Hurricanes and NC State University, to support the needs of our community when called upon."

Wake County Public Health, PNC Arena, WakeMed Health & Hospitals, UNC REX Healthcare and Duke Raleigh Hospital will work together to administer vaccinations, assist with logistics and provide medical support to create this efficient and safe appointment-only drive-thru site, with support from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

"The state delivered some encouraging news to us last night - that Wake County Public Health was going to receive nearly 3,000 more doses than we originally expected and we couldn't be more thankful," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Matt Calabria. "Thanks in part to the incredible coordination that is already underway among our community partners, we stand ready to take on these additional doses and deliver them safely and efficiently. This means more vaccinations and more lives saved."

Wake County Public Health expects to send out invitations for waitlist members to sign up for appointment slots later Friday evening. Appointments are required to receive a vaccination, and vaccinations will not be available without confirmation of a spot.

"We are proud to be a part of this community and recognize the heartbreaking impact this pandemic has had for so many of its citizens," said Don Waddell, president of the Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena. "PNC Arena has ample space to serve as a mass-vaccination venue, and we want to do everything we can to help Wake County in its fight against COVID-19."

Walk-ups with appointments are welcome. Public transportation is available via GoRaleigh.

3:30 p.m.
NCDHHS said data shows the 3Ws have helped dramatically reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory illnesses across the state.

"Only four deaths from flu have been reported to NCDHHS so far this season, compared to 186 deaths last season and more than 200 deaths during the 2018-19 season. The data show these low levels of flu and RSV are occurring despite similar or higher levels of testing for both illnesses," a press release from NCDHHS said.

NC Medicaid has seen a 98.2% reduction in expense claims for Tamiflu, a drug used to treat the flu.

"Altogether, this data tells us the preventative measures we're taking are working," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "Not only are the 3Ws having a big impact on the spread of flu and other respiratory viruses, this data shows us that the spread of COVID-19 would likely be much higher if we weren't taking these measures."

1:30 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Friday reported 5,547 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.

The percent of positive test is at 7.9%.

NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen earlier this week said trends were moving in a positive direction.

Currently, 2,523 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

That's down 107 from the day before. 113 more deaths reported on Friday. That marks the third day in a row of more than 100 deaths reported.

684 deaths were reported in the last week.

12 p.m.

The White House says the Pentagon will deploy troops to assist Americans getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Coronavirus senior adviser Andy Slavitt announced Friday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It means about 1,000 active duty military personnel will deploy to help state vaccination centers.

President Joe Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centers around the country within a month. Two are opening in California, and Slavitt says military personnel will arrive at those centers in a little over a week.

Slavitt says support from the military will support vaccination sites, helping administer thousands of shots a day. Currently about 6.9 million Americans have received the full two-dose regimen required to get maximum protection from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The White House is considering sending a mask to every American as they hope to convince people to do their part in the fight against the Coronavirus. White House chief of staff Ron Klain said in an interview that administration officials are looking at using mask supplies that the government already has in its stockpile. Klain said that the administration hopes to make an announcement on a potential move "in the next few days or next week."

Biden has pleaded for Americans to wear masks during the first 100 days of his administration

The North Carolina Senate has approved a bill to send students back to the classroom and require all schools to go back to in-person learning in some capacity. The bill would still allow parents the choice for virtual learning.

The bill is expected to go to the house next week for a vote. If it passes in the House and Senate, the bill would go to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk. Gov. Cooper supports reopening classrooms, but opposes the bill, feeling the decision should be up to each district.

Wake County Public Schools will go back to in-person learning on Feb. 15. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools voted to reopen classrooms in April and have students on a Plan B hybrid schedule.

The Durham VA healthcare system is hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic this weekend. More than 3,000 veterans are expected to get their vaccine.

Union Church is helping families struggling during the pandemic by giving out meals in Raleigh this weekend. The giveaway is at 5808 Departure Drive on Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Johnson & Johnson has asked U.S. regulators to clear the world's first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, an easier-to-use option that could boost scarce supplies.

THURSDAY


3:40 p.m.
In a news briefing, Gov. Roy Cooper announced his proposal for a new $4 billion emergency relief budget, including funding for COVID-19 treatment, vaccines and prevention, housing assistance, bonuses for educators, and help for small businesses.

"We must make sure our state is in a positive to thrive both during and after the pandemic," Cooper said in the briefing.

He added that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers worked on the proposal which includes both state and federal funds, as well as educators, health experts, business leaders and others.

Included in the plan are one-time bonuses for educators, including $2,500 for teachers and principals, $1,500 for school personnel, and $2,000 for workers in community colleges and universities. Cooper added that educators are the only state employees that didn't receive a pay raise last year.

Also included is funding to expand child care access, funding for food assistance and $30 million to expand high-speed internet access.

Cooper also announced state unemployment benefits would increase to a maximum of $500 per week, for a maximum of 26 weeks.

"Even before the pandemic, North Carolina had some of the shortest and stingiest unemployment benefits in the country," Cooper said. "Now is the time to fix this."

During the briefing, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen addressed the state's changing COVID-19 metrics and the updated county alert map.

"For the first time since we started this report in November, our trends moved in a positive direction," Cohen said.

The last report, issued on Jan. 21, listed 99% of counties in the red or orange zones, meaning critical or substantial communty spread. That percentage has dropped to 94%, with the remaining 6% showing significant community spread (yellow zone). Furthermore, 25 fewer counties are in the red zone this week, dropping from 86 to 61.

"North Carolinians are working hard to protect one another and we're seeing the result," Cohen said.

While Cooper echoed her optimism, he added that cases and deaths are still to high--pointing to Wednesday's record for most deaths recorded in a single day.

"There are encouraging signs but we know this pandemic has tested us and we must stay vigilant," Cooper said. "We can and will turn the corner on this pandemic and our communities can be even stronger than before."

2:40 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the lowest percentage of positive tests in over two months, with 7.2% of tests returning positive as of Tuesday.

The state also reported 5,495 more cases and 150 more deaths, a slight decrease from Wednesday's record high of 169 more deaths.

For the ninth-straight day, fewer people are hospitalized with COVID-19. That number dropped to 2,630 statewide, the lowest it's been since mid-December.

9 a.m.
UNC-Chapel Hill has found another cluster of COVID-19 cases on campus, this time at Connor residence hall. Tuesday, there was a cluster discovered at Morrison residence hall.

The state defines a cluster as five or more cases within close proximity. In January, the school alerted students to clusters at Avery and Carmichael halls.

UNC started the semester with all virtual classes on Tuesday. Jan. 19. The university delayed the start of in-person classes for three weeks citing record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina.

8:40 a.m.
Wake County is adding new COVID-19 testing sites at parks in Raleigh and Morrisville next week.

There will be testing done at Brier Creek Park in Morrisville and Method Community Park and Tarboro Road Park in Raleigh from Monday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 14.

The county also announced Union Church will give away meals at 5808 Departure Drive on Friday (noon to 6 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). For more testing sites and information, check out the county's COVID-19 testing page.

THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The state will unveil more about a COVID-19 relief bill today after it was passed by state senators Wednesday night. The bill contains federal money that was part of a stimulus package from December.

Included in the bill:
  • $1.6 billion to help reopen schools and improve technology to help close learning gaps.
  • $546 million for rent assistance
  • $95 million for the state health department to help with vaccine distribution. The state is on track to receive more than 145,000 new first doses over the next three weeks from the federal government

Gov. Roy Cooper and others are expected to speak about the bill Thursday at 3 p.m.

The coronavirus relief bill approved by the Senate on Wednesday also supports direct payments to more parents.

Parents who missed an opportunity last year to get $335 checks to help offset childcare costs and expenses associated with remote learning would have until May 31 to take advantage of the so-called Extra Credit grants

A drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic is again open Thursday at a Crown Complex in Fayetteville. The clinic will begin at 9 a.m. and is for the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. No appointment is necessary.

WEDNESDAY


6 p.m.
The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says schools can safely reopen even if teachers are not vaccinated for the coronavirus.

As some teachers' unions balk at resuming in-person instruction before teachers are inoculated, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says, "Vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools." Walensky cited CDC data showing that social distancing and wearing a mask significantly reduce the spread of the virus in school settings.

White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients called on Congress to pass additional funding to ensure schools have the resources necessary to support reopening.

President Joe Biden has pledged to ensure nearly all K-8 schools will reopen for in-person instruction in the first 100 days of his administration.

Teachers are prioritized as "essential workers" under the CDC's vaccination plans, though many have yet to receive doses as the nation continues to face a supply shortage of the vaccine.

3 p.m.
AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine does more than prevent people from falling seriously ill - it appears to reduce transmission of the virus and offers strong protection for three months on just a single dose, researchers said Wednesday in an encouraging turn in the campaign to suppress the outbreak.

12:45 p.m.
North Carolina is reporting 12,079 COVID-19 cases due to a backlog from December and January. This brings the total of North Carolina cases to 776,307.

According to North Carolina health officials, Wednesday's data includes tests performed at FastMed Urgent Care clinics during December and January not previously reported.

The delayed numbers count for 7,912 of the 12,079 new cases. The delayed reports also add 40,000 new tests to the dashboard.

Prior to December 2020, all testing from FastMed was done by third-party labs and test results were reported to NCDHHS from those labs and included in the NC COVID-19 Dashboard and FastMed has since fixed its reporting error.

NCDHHS says cases have been trending down since the second week of January.

169 more people in North Carolina have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, bringing the total to 9,578. This is the highest single day of reported deaths since Dec. 26.

Throughout the state, 2,706 remain hospitalized as the state's percent positive test rate is 14%, up from Tuesday's 10.2%.

WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The Wake County Public School System will allow Pre-K through third graders to come back to school for daily in-person learning on Feb. 15. The decision passed by an 8-1 vote on Tuesday night. Grades 4 and 5 will meet in person in three-week rotations as will many middle and high school students. Special education regional programs will meet for daily in-person learning.

The move comes a day after Gov. Cooper and other state officials urged school districts to let students back into the classroom.

A COVID-19 drive-thru vaccination clinic is scheduled for Wednesday at West Johnston High School. The clinic starts at 10 a.m. and is for the first dose of the Moderna vaccine. A drive-thru clinic is also set for Wednesday at the Crown Complex in Fayetteville. The clinic begins at 9 a.m. and walk-ups are welcome after 1 p.m.
More than 1,099,218 total doses have been administered in NC and more than 32,000,000 have been administered in the U.S. UNC Health recently celebrated 100,000 vaccines administered.

We'll be taking your COVID-19 vaccine questions tonight at 6:30. A panel of Health experts will give their professional advice. You can submit questions through abc11.com and our ABC11 Instagram page.
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