892 new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina as state officials report technical issues Saturday

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

SUNDAY
1:45 p.m
North Carolina health officials will not update the COVID-19 dashboard today. As of last weekend, the dashboard will only be updated on Monday though Saturday.

On Saturday, NCDHHS said a technical error on Friday will cause Monday's data to be elevated.

7:20 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 29,400,898 COVID-19 cases in the United States since the pandemic began in March 2020.

SATURDAY

8:30 p.m.
Duke University is demanding that their undergraduate students to stay-in-place for a week after witnessing a 'steady rise' in COVID-19 cases following recent off-campus fraternity-related events.

The order, which goes into effect at midnight, will not be relieved until 9 a.m. on Sunday, March 21.

Officials said over the past week, more than 180 students had to go into isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 while another 200 students are in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

"This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic," Duke wrote in a statement.

An update will be provided on Thursday, March 18.

Students who are on-campus are asked to remain in their dorm or apartment rooms at all times except for 'essential activities.' A curfew is also in place for all undergraduate students by 9 p.m.

As for off-campus students, they are asked not to come to campus for any purpose other than a few exceptions regarding student health.

For full details on the extent of the stay-in-place order, check here.

3:45 p.m.
A North Carolina inmate has died after testing positive for COVID-19, prison officials said Saturday.

The Franklin Correctional Center offender was in his 60s, pre-existing medical conditions, tested positive for the virus on Feb. 19 and was hospitalized on Feb. 22.

The man died on March 12.

"We are continuing our extensive efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offender population is our top priority," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. "I urge the staff and offenders to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. It's important."

1:45 p.m.
Urban Ministries was able to administer 100-second doses of the Moderna vaccine Saturday.

"It's gonna be our way, our path back to getting things closer to normal. It may take a long time to do that, but any steps we can take back to normal, this is definitely something that everyone should consider," said Elizabeth A. Campbell, medical director of the Urban Ministries Open Door Clinic

That advice is especially to anyone hesitant after hearing about side effects, including headaches, chills and temporary discomfort.

"We're learning more and more about the side effects of having severe coronavirus. And the side effects pale in comparison to having a long term, severe coronavirus," said Campbell.

Organizers are not done yet, knowing more will roll up their sleeves if the vaccine is available.

"So next week, on Thursday the 18th of March we're starting to register more of our patients for a second series of the Moderna shot," said Campbell.

12:20 p.m.
North Carolina health officials said technical issues are causing lower COVID-19 cases and test counts.

Saturday, NCDHHS said 892 new COVID-19 cases were reported.

Throughout North Carolina, 28 more people have died from the virus, bringing the total to 11,691.

Nine fewer COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized, bringing the total to 1,028 statewide.

The state reported a 5.4% positive test rate.

Health officials said data on March 15 will be higher as it incorporates case and test data that would have been reported today.

7:25 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, there have been 29,347,849 COVID-19 cases in the United States since March 2020.

FRIDAY

3 p.m.
Major conferences have had to call off tournament games with cancellations involving No. 11 Kansas and No. 16 Virginia. The Jayhawks withdrew from the Big 12 Tournament on Friday after a positive COVID-19 test within the program. That forced the cancellation of a semifinal matchup with No. 13 Texas. In the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Cavaliers' semifinal matchup with Georgia Tech was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test, quarantining and contact tracing within the Cavaliers program. The cancellations came a day after Duke withdrew from the ACC Tournament and ended its season amid its own positive test.

2 p.m.
The World Health Organization granted an emergency use listing for the coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, meaning the one-dose shot can be used as part of the international COVAX effort to distribute vaccines globally, including to developing countries with no supplies.

In a statement on Friday, the U.N. health agency said "the ample data from large clinical trials" shows the J&J vaccine is effective in adult populations. The emergency use listing comes a day after the European Medicines Agency recommended the shot be given the green light across the 27-country European Union. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the J&J vaccine an emergency authorization last month.

A massive study that spanned three continents found the J&J vaccine was 85% effective in protecting against severe illness, hospitalization and death. That protection remained strong even in countries such as South Africa with variants.

The U.N.-backed COVAX effort previously announced it had an initial agreement with J&J to provide 500 million doses, but it's not legally binding.

1 p.m.
U.S. health officials have posted more specific COVID-19 guidance for preschools and other childcare programs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending very young children and childcare workers are placed in groups that stay together throughout an entire day. It is similar guidance applied to schools with older students.

The guidance is more emphatic about wearing masks, calls on all childcare workers to get vaccinated and issues more information about the importance of ventilation.

The guidance was issued Friday, replacing advisory documents the CDC posted last summer.

It's meant for programs that care for children before they start kindergarten. That includes preschool programs and home-based family childcare programs.

10 a.m.
The top seeded team in the ACC tournament is out following a positive COVID-19 test within the program.

Virginia beat Syracuse in the quarterfinals on a buzzard beating three pointer, but they won't even get a chance to play fourth seeded Georgia Tech.

The Cavaliers were scheduled to play the Yellow Jackets on Friday evening, but because of the positive COVID-19 test, the Yellow Jackets will advance to the championship game on Saturday.

9 a.m.
Wake County is expanding access to COVID-19 testing by partnering with the City of Raleigh, Town of Cary and Town of Garner to launch three temporary testing locations beginning Monday, March 15.

Based in local parks, these convenient sites will make it easy for people who live in these communities to get tested. All sites are free, and residents do not need an appointment, insurance or ID. All sites will offer walk up testing for anyone who does not have a car.

Wake County will offer testing from Monday, March 15, through Sunday, March 21, at the following parks:
Biltmore Hills Park, 2615 Fitzgerald Drive, Raleigh; White Deer Park, 2400 Aversboro Road, Garner; Fred G. Bond Metro Park, 801 High House Road, Cary

8 a.m.
Novavax, a biotechnology company developing a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, has released its product's efficacy.

The vaccine provides 100% protection against severe disease resulting in hospitalization and death and has 96.4% efficacy against the original virus strain. It's also effective against the U.K. and South African coronavirus variants, the company said in a news release Thursday.

5:40 a.m.
COVID-19 stimulus checks should start arriving in some bank accounts as soon as this weekend.

Payments to eligible Americans are underway and could take several weeks to complete.

However, families with children should not expect to see the child text credit boost until the summer

For everything you need to know about the third stimulus checks, click here.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
More North Carolinians will soon be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced that a portion of Group 4 would become eligible for the shot a week earlier than expected.

People with chronic conditions, or who live in certain congregate settings, will become eligible Wednesday, March 17.

However, your county or medical provider may not open the vaccine eligibility on the exact same date. That's because some areas are running on their own timeline based on vaccine supply.

Wake County health officials said they will be on Cooper's accelerated timeline. The county expects to open its vaccine request form to that first part of Group 4 on March 17--then to the rest of Group 4 on April 7.

Wake County is administering about 10,000 shots a day. People in Group 1 or 2 have an average wait time of one day; people in Group 3 have an average wait time of six days.

At this moment, there's no timeline for when Group 5--which includes the rest of the population--will be allowed to sign up for vaccinations.

One year after the nation was brought to a near-standstill by the coronavirus, President Joe Biden used his first prime-time address Thursday night to announce his plan to make all adults vaccine-eligible by May 1 and "begin to mark our independence from this virus" by the Fourth of July. He offered Americans fresh hope and appealed anew for their help.

THURSDAY
7:15 p.m.
Thanks to a partnership with Ottendorf Labs, Durham Public Schools will offer COVID-19 testing for students, teachers, staff and community members beginning the week of March 22.

The tests will be offered upon request for free, with results returning on average of 24 hours.

"I am so excited that we will have this additional level of protection for our students and staff," Dr. Mubenga said in a statement. "Thanks to the federal grant supporting Ottendorf, anyone who wants it will have easy access to convenient and free PCR level COVID-19 testing."

5:39 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law Senate Bill 220: The Reopen Our Schools Act of 2021.

The move comes after Republicans in the general assembly and the governor reached an agreement to reopen schools after Cooper vetoed SB 37, a previous effort to pass school-reopening legislation. The NC Senate then failed to override Cooper's veto.

"Getting students back into the classroom safely is a shared priority, and this agreement will move more students to in-person instruction while retaining the ability to respond to local emergencies," Cooper said.

3 p.m.
Gov, Roy Cooper held a media briefing to update progress on COVID-19 vaccinations.

Cooper announced that some members of Group 4 will be able to get vaccines starting March 17, a week earlier than previously planned.

People at higher-risk plus certain people living in congregate housing will be eligible first. Other members of Group 4 will be eligible April 7.

"This move to Group 4 is good news," Cooper said. "I know there are many efforts across the state getting vaccines to people as quickly and fairly as possible and I want our providers to know that their work is making all the difference."

As with previous eligibility changes, some vaccine providers may not be ready to open to Group 4 on March 17 if they are still experiencing high demand for vaccines in Groups 1 through 3.

"We are very fortunate to now have three tested, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that keep people out of the hospital and prevent death from this virus," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. "With improving supplies, North Carolina can get more people vaccinated sooner and meet our goals to provide equitable access to vaccinations in every community in the state."

12:45 p.m.
2,061 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Thursday. That's the first time new cases have been over 2,000 since March 6.

1,039 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state. 134 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

The percent of positive tests is at 3.8.

11.2 percent of the population of North Carolina has been fully vaccinated.

11 a.m.
The Duke University men's basketball team announced on Thursday that it would be dropping out of the 2021 ACC Tournament following a positive COVID-19 test within a member of the program's Tier 1 personnel.

9:45 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will host a live fireside chat on COVID-19 vaccines on March 11 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

NCDHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen will host the event and featured guests include Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and North Carolina NAACP State Conference President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman.

Sec. Cohen and Rev. Barber both received a one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at the PNC Arena in Raleigh on March 5. They will share their vaccination experience, discuss the safety and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines and answer questions from viewers during the live stream.

9:15 a.m.
About 1 in 5 Americans say they lost a relative or close friend to the coronavirus, highlighting the division between heartache and hope as the country itches to get back to normal a year into the pandemic.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research illustrates how the stage is set for a two-tiered recovery. The public's worry about the virus has dropped to its lowest point since the fall, before the holidays brought skyrocketing cases into the new year.

But people still in mourning express frustration at the continued struggle to stay safe.

"We didn't have a chance to grieve. It's almost like it happened yesterday for us. It's still fresh," said Nettie Parks of Volusia County, Florida, whose only brother died of COVID-19 last April. Because of travel restrictions, Parks and her five sisters have yet to hold a memorial.

Parks, 60, said she retired from her customer service job last year in part because of worry about workplace exposure, and now she is watching with dread as more states and cities relax health rules.

Only about 3 in 10 Americans are very worried about themselves or a family member being infected with the virus, down from about 4 in 10 in recent months. Still, a majority are at least somewhat worried.

"They're letting their guard down and they shouldn't," Parks said. "People are going to have to realize this thing is not going anywhere. It's not over."

COVID-19's toll is staggering, more than 527,000 dead in the U.S. alone, and counting.

9 a.m.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 712,000, the lowest total since early November, evidence that fewer employers are cutting jobs amid a decline in confirmed coronavirus cases and signs of an improving economy. The Labor Department said Thursday that applications for unemployment aid dropped by 42,000 from 754,000 the week before. Though the job market has been slowly strengthening, many businesses remain under pressure, and 9.6 million jobs remain lost to the pandemic that flattened the economy 12 months ago.

6 a.m.
Gov. Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force will share an update on COVID-19. The press conference will take place at 3 p.m.

5 a.m.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far declined to issue new guidance on travel for vaccinated Americans due to concerns about travel-related surges but is "looking forward" to updating guidance once more people get protected.

"What we have seen is that we have surges after people start traveling, we saw it after July 4, we saw it after Labor Day, we saw it after the Christmas holidays," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday in response to a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins during a COVID-19 briefing.

Walensky said because 90% of people remain unvaccinated they will wait to update guidance until "we have more protection across the communities and across the population."

THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES

It's been one year since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic.

When the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic one year ago Thursday, it did so only after weeks of resisting the term and maintaining that the highly infectious virus could still be stopped.

A year later, the U.N. agency is still struggling to keep on top of the evolving science of COVID-19, to persuade countries to abandon their nationalistic tendencies and help get vaccines where they're needed most.

Marking a year of loss and disruption, President Joe Biden will use his first prime-time address since taking office to steer the nation toward a hungered-for sentiment - hope - in the "next phase" of the fight against the pandemic that has killed more than 529,000 Americans.

Previewing his remarks, Biden said he would "talk about what we've been through as a nation this past year, but more importantly, I'm going to talk about what comes next."

Biden's challenge Thursday night will be to honor the sacrifices made by Americans over the last year while encouraging them to remain vigilant despite "virus fatigue" and growing impatience to resume normal activities given the tantalizing promise of vaccines. Speaking on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization's declaration of a pandemic, he'll mourn the dead, but also project optimism about the future.

5:40 p.m.
One Merck & Co.'s facility located in Durham is at the receiving end of a $105.4 million federal government investment to aid in the production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

"Our Durham, N.C. facility is part of Merck's global manufacturing network. This site is preparing to produce bulk drug substance for the J&J vaccine," a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to ABC11.


Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden entered a "historic manufacturing partnership to expand the production of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine."

The facility located off of Oxford Road in north Durham will perform the "fill-and-finish production" of the vaccine.

3:40 p.m.
Gov. Cooper toured the state's first FEMA-backed mass vaccination site in Greensboro -- exactly one year after he issued a state of emergency for North Carolina because of COVID-19.

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Gov. Cooper spoke at a new FEMA-backed COVID-19 mass vaccination site Wednesday



Members of the National Guard, US Air Force and health care volunteers started giving people their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinic situated off I-40 at the Four Season Town Center.

The mass vaccination site will run every day, 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the next two months.

You must book your appointment ahead of time.

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Gov. Cooper toured a new FEMA-backed COVID-19 mass vaccination site Wednesday



On Wednesday, Gov. Cooper watched the process that will now get will get 3,000 people vaccinated every day.

He said the clinic will concentrate on getting shots to people in underserved communities and to people of color.

"The success will be measured at how well this clinic gets shots to people equitably," he said. "We want to make sure those arms reflect North Carolina's population, our very diverse population."

If you're eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in groups 1, 2 and 3, you can book an appointment for the clinic in Greensboro now.

3:03 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports six new cases for a total of 5,049 total positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death was reported for a countywide total of 101 -- 2% of total cases.

2:47 p.m.
Urban Ministries of Wake County is hosting its second COVID-19 vaccine event for its clinic patients on Saturday from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m. WakeMed is providing Urban Ministries with 100 additional vaccines with the goal of giving a second dose to the patients who received them at its first event last month.

The event is at the main campus, 1390 Capital Blvd.

1 p.m.
North Carolina health officials reported 1,861 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.

There are 72 fewer COVID-19 patients in North Carolina hospitals, in total there are 1,075 in total.

Throughout North Carolina, 43 more people have died from the virus. That brings the death total to 11,595.

The state is reporting a 5.3% positive test rate.

10 a.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Republican leaders joined forces to announce a bipartisan plan to return all public elementary schools schools to Plan A--which is all in-person learning.

The governor was joined by Senate Leader Phil Berger, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, House Speaker Tim Moore and House Minority Leader Robert Reives.

"Today the bill before you, tells schools when and how (to reopen). The good news is that we all want the same thing, to open our schools to in-person instruction for all students and to do it safely with important emergency protections," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Cooper did clarify that elementary school parents parents would still be allowed to keep their children in virtual academies if they chose to do so.

"There is a full option for a parent to chose a virtual option for their children," Cooper said.

WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
On this day a year ago, Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for North Carolina. That came a day after state health officials identified North Carolina's first COVID-19 cluster.

Today, more than 1 million people have been vaccinated against the virus, and the state is celebrating the opening of the first FEMA-backed vaccination site.

That site is located at Four Seasons Town Centre in Greensboro. It will be able to vaccinate 3,000 people per day for 8 weeks.

You must meet state vaccine eligibility requirements to receive a vaccine, and you must register ahead of arriving. You can register at this website.

Meanwhile, Walgreens announced it has administered 5 million vaccines throughout the USA, including to people in North Carolina.

The company said it is close to finishing vaccines at long-term care facilities. It is working now to get more shots to teachers, childcare workers and other frontline groups.

TUESDAY
5:30 p.m.
The Duke football team has paused in-person activities indefinitely after a cluster of COVID-19 cases was identified within the program.

The Blue Devils started spring practice on Feb. 26 and had conducted three official workouts prior to the pause.

3 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper gave a media briefing on North Carolina's COVID-19 response and where we stand.

The governor said North Carolina's mission remains "fast and fair" when it comes to vaccinating people.

"Today, I'm proud to share that our state has fully vaccinated more than 1.1 million people," Cooper said. "With almost 8 million adults in our state, there is more work to do - but this is a huge milestone."

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Gov. Cooper warned about not celebrating too soon in the fight against COVID-19 on Tuesday.



Cases are on the decline but Cooper urged people to remain vigilant.

"Let's not get caught celebrating too early," he said. "Let's keep wearing our masks and being responsible so that one day soon we can turn the corner on this pandemic."

2:30 p.m.
997 new COVID-19 cases were reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday.

That's the lowest number of new cases in the last month.

As of Tuesday, 1,147 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state. That number also continues to trend downward.

89 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted to hospitals in the last 24 hours.

10.6 percent of North Carolina's population is currently vaccinated. 1.1 million people have received both doses of the vaccine. More than 7,000 people have received the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

2:20 p.m.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the company should be able to reopen its California theme parks, Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure Park, with limited capacity by late April.

2 p.m.
The U.S. is making an additional 900,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available to states and pharmacy partners this week.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that states and territories will receive 15.8 million doses of the two-shot vaccines, up from 15.2 million last week. Another 2.7 million doses will be distributed through the federal pharmacy program this week.

Last week, President Joe Biden directed the pharmacy program to prioritize teachers and childcare workers. Psaki says the U.S. is now delivering an average of 2.17 million doses per day.

There will be no shipments this week of the newly approved single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to manufacturing constraints. Those deliveries, which total 3.9 million doses so far, are set to resume as soon as next week. Another 16 million doses are expected to be shipped by the end of the month.

1 p.m.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has acquired the vial that contained the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine administered in the United States.

The museum announced the acquisition of the vial and other materials related to that first vaccine dose on Tuesday to mark the upcoming one-year anniversary of the pandemic on Thursday.

Associated Press journalists were given an exclusive backstage look at the newly obtained materials, including vials, special shipping equipment and the medical scrubs and ID badge of the New York City nurse who was America's first coronavirus vaccine recipient.

New York-based health provider Northwell Health administered that first dose and donated the Pfizer vial.

12 p.m.
Roughly 4 in 10 Americans say they're still feeling the financial impact of the loss of a job or income within their household as the economic recovery remains uneven one year into the coronavirus pandemic.

The new poll was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The financial outcome often depended on the type of job a person had and their income level before the pandemic.

The pandemic has particularly hurt Black and Latino households, as well as young Americans, who are now going through their second major economic crisis of their adult lives.

The poll shows about half of Americans say they have experienced at least one form of household income loss during the pandemic, including 25% who have experienced a household layoff and 31% who say someone in the household was scheduled for fewer hours. Overall, 44% say their household experienced income loss from the pandemic that is still having an impact on their finances.

Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics and 29% of Black Americans have experienced a layoff in their household at some point during the past year, compared with 21% of white Americans.

Overall, about a quarter of Americans say they've been unable to pay one or more bills in the last month.

Some 745,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits the week of Feb. 22, according to the Labor Department. Nearly 18 million Americans remain on the unemployment rolls.

TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
More students could return to the classroom fulltime very soon.

Wake County Public School System leaders are scheduled to meet Tuesday and vote on adding fourth and fifth grade students to plan A.

Currently, students in kindergarten through third grade are going to school every day; older students are on a blended schedule with some days in class and some days remote.

That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Stay with ABC11 for all the updates from the meeting.

Meanwhile in Durham, the district's superintendent is expected to release an update on his district's plan to return students to the classroom.

Durham Public Schools currently plans to allow some students back to class for the first time this school year on Monday.

Governor Roy Cooper is scheduled to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today to give an update on the state's progress in distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can watch all of that press conference in this article this afternoon.

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The big takeaway is that fully vaccinated people can attend small indoor gatherings without masks or physical distancing. Mixed groups of vaccinated and non-vaccinated family members can gather in small groups inside as long as the unvaccinated members of the family are not at high risk for a severe case of COVID-19.
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