The U.S. is reaching a pair of encouraging milestones as the COVID-19 pandemic's grip on the nation continues to loosen. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have dipped below 300 a day for the first time since the outbreak's early days in March 2020. Meanwhile, nearly 150 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, behind heart disease and cancer. Now, however, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that more Americans are dying every day from accidents, chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes or Alzheimer's disease than COVID-19.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 238 new COVID-19 cases and a 2.4% positive test rate Monday morning.
Throughout North Carolina hospitals, 458 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down 17 from Friday.
Throughout the state, 28 more people have died from the virus.
According to NCDHHS data, 55% of North Carolina adults have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 52% of adults are fully vaccinated.
Pandemic restrictions are falling away almost everywhere - except inside many of America's nursing homes. Rules designed to protect the nation's most vulnerable from COVID-19 are still being enforced even though 75% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated and infections and deaths have plummeted.
Frustration has set in as families around the country visit their moms and, this Father's Day weekend, their dads. Hugs and kisses are still discouraged or banned in some nursing homes. Residents are dining in relative isolation and playing bingo and doing crafts at a distance. Visits are limited and must be kept short, and are cut off entirely if someone tests positive.
Family members and advocates question the need for such restrictions at this stage of the pandemic, when the risk is comparatively low. They say the measures are now just prolonging older people's isolation and accelerating their mental and physical decline.
"They have protected them to death," said Denise Gracely, whose 80-year-old mother, Marian Rauenzahn, lives in a nursing home in Topton, Pennsylvania.
Rauenzahn had COVID-19 and then lost part of a leg to gangrene, but Graceley said what she struggled with the most was enforced solitude, going from six-day-a-week visits to none at all.
Rauenzahn's daughters eventually won the right to see her once a week, and the nursing home now says it plans to relax the rules on visits for all residents in late June.
The White House announced Sunday that President Joe Biden will be visiting Raleigh Thursday to encourage COVID vaccinations.
The visit is part of President Biden's "National Month of Action," the nationwide sprint to get 70 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
US on track to fall short of Biden's July 4 vaccine goal to get 70% of adults partially vaccinated
The latest update from NCDHHS Friday said 55 percent of North Carolina adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will host a live Spanish-language livestream event on Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to discuss the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines for youth ages 12 to 17, as well as adults.
NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will host the event and will be joined by Dr. Edith Nieves Lopez, community pediatrician, advocate and grass-roots organizer.
In addition to the livestream, the event will also include a tele townhall feature. Households will be invited by phone to listen in and submit questions to help ensure everyone interested can participate. People can also dial into the event by calling (855) 756-7520 ext.74266#.
The event comes as the state continues its push to ensure everyone ages 12 and older is vaccinated, protected and helping reduce the spread of COVID-19. More than 53% of the Latino population 18 years and older has been vaccinated with at least one dose.
Gov. Roy Cooper toured a vaccine clinic in Johnston County on Friday morning.
After the tour he spoke to the press praising the workers at the clinic and all the North Carolinians who have already decided to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated.
In addition to 55 percent of adults in the state being fully vaccinated, nearly 82 percent of people 65 and older are at least partially vaccinated.
Cooper said the numbers are good, but they could be better.
"We have almost 2.5 million adults who are not yet vaccinated," Cooper said before urging vaccinated people to talk to their friends and family about getting the shot.
"We know that this is the way out. This is the way to put the pandemic fully behind us. The way to stamp out this virus is to get the population vaccinated," Cooper said.
As for the million dollar drawings, the first will take place June 23 and another will take place every other Wednesday until August 4. The governor admitted the lottery is not having much of an impact on people getting their vaccines yet--but it was only announced about a week ago.
"We're trying to find everything that we can," Cooper said. "Even keeping steady would be a positive thing so that we don't keep going down in the number of people who are getting vaccinated. I think we're going to see a resurgence here. I think the drawings will be part of it."
North Carolinians who got their shot through the Veterans Administration or Tribal Health Program are now eligible for the $4 million Summer Cash and College Tuition vaccine lottery through the North Carolina state governemnt.
"Thanks to our partners across the state, we are now able to include veterans vaccinated through the VA and American Indians vaccinated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians," said NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen, M.D., in a written statement. "Everyone can protect themselves and their community while also getting a chance to win a million dollars. It's a win-win."
Four vaccinated North Carolina adults (18 or older) will win $1 million each. In addition, four North Carolina teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 will win college tuition.
The first drawings will happen next Wednesday. Anyone who is vaccinated before Sunday, June 20 at midnight will be entered to win twice.
Gov. Roy Cooper is set to release new details on the million dollar summer cash drawings designed to boost COVID-19 vaccines.
The latest numbers show 55 percent of the adult population in North Carolina is partially vaccinated. Fifty-one percent of adults are fully vaccinated.
Since announcing the vaccine lottery last week, the state has not seen an uptick in vaccinations.
Cooper said he still believes the incentive will help drive more people to vaccine clinics once the drawing gets closer to happening.
He said he believes the state can get to 66 percent of eligible persons vaccinated.
Cooper is scheduled to release new details about his vaccine lottery program at 11 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 362 new cases of COVID-19.
The percent positive stands at 1.9% as COVID-19 trends continue to improve in the state.
In all, 55% of adults in North Carolina are at least partially vaccinated.
There have been 13,320 deaths in the state since the start of the pandemic,
The Halifax County Health Department said that 12 new cases were reported since June 9 for a total of 5,677 total positive COVID-19 cases.
The county's death toll remains at 112 or 1.97% of cases.
Starting Saturday, the federal agency in charge of leading the nation's pandemic response says it will stop screening its own employees and contractors for COVID-19 symptoms before entering its buildings.
The notice, obtained by ABC News, acknowledges that symptom screening isn't "completely effective" in containing the virus because of the number of people who don't exhibit symptoms even when infected.
"Effective June 19, 2021, HHS will discontinue temperature and COVID-19 symptom screening for those entering our facilities at the Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 5600 Fishers Lane and Perry Point," the Department of Health and Human Services said. "As we entered the pandemic, the purpose of the screening was to identify potential COVID-infected personnel in order to minimize the spread of this infectious disease. Individuals with a positive screen were permitted to enter the workplace facility once it was determined that their symptoms were not due to COVID 19 infection or other communicable diseases. CDC guidance identified screening as one of a number of strategies to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. CDC acknowledged that performing symptom screening with or without temperature screening would not be completely effective because asymptomatic individuals or individuals with mild nonspecific symptoms who have COVID-19 may be undetected on screening. CDC also continues to emphasize that screening and health checks are not a replacement for other protective measures such as vaccination, social distancing, and wearing a mask."
n the U.S. and Europe. It is not authorized in the U.K.