Duke University lifts 'most' of stay-in-place order Sunday after fewer undergraduates test positive for COVID-19

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

SUNDAY

2:30 p.m.
Duke students are adjusting again after the university lifted parts of its stay-in-place order.

"Honestly throughout the entire week, it was a little tough sometimes to adjust because I feel for me, personally, I really like interacting with people in person," said junior Kevin Tan. "Being cooped up in a room all the time was a little tough."

The school had implemented the weeklong order for undergraduate students after a jump in positive COVID-19 tests, some stemming from off-campus fraternity events.

"I think it's unfortunate why the cases spiked but again, I think if Duke in general can facilitate safe gatherings and socialization then I think we'll avoid those kind of underground off-the-record parties which are leading to the cases," said Jeffrey Dunn, MBA student.

In-person classes can now resume but students living off campus will only be allowed on campus for essential academic activities, COVID-19 testing, medical care and for food.

"I think it's really unfortunate that it came from a lot of off campus parties just because it feels like Duke can't really do too much to regulate that," said junior Adam Lin.

9 a.m.
Duke officials announced a decline in the numbers of undergrads testing positive for COVID-19. The university lifted most elements of the stay-in-place order at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

When the stay-in-place order is lifted at 9 a.m., all courses and labs will resume their 2021 delivery, whether that is in-person or hybrid. Those living in Duke housing will now be able to move freely about campus but students are asked to still remain on campus and only leave for essential travel and wellness activities through March 28.

Officials still urge vigilance at preventing further spread of the virus,

"We continue to see students testing positive at a higher rate than last semester and earlier this year, and our data indicate that the virus is becoming more contagious," officials said. "Please remain vigilant and carefully follow the Duke Compact and additional public health guidance. We've heard you clearly that you want to successfully complete the semester and to support our seniors on their way to graduation. Given the collective effort we've seen from you this week, we know these goals are within reach."

Duke students frustrated after off-campus fraternity activities lead to COVID-19 stay-in-place order

SATURDAY

4:30 p.m.
Duke University announced that it plans to lift 'nearly all' of its stay-in-place order on Sunday morning after seeing a decline in positive COVID-19 cases among undergraduate students.

Despite the lift, university officials stressed that this is not the end of the pandemic.

"We continue to see students testing positive at a higher rate than last semester and earlier this year, and our data indicate that the virus is becoming more contagious," officials wrote. "Please remain vigilant and carefully follow the Duke Compact and additional public health guidance."

On-campus students are allowed to freely navigate campus and are asked to only leave campus for "essential travel and wellness-related activities" through March 28.

Off-campus students are only permitted on campus for "in-person classes and essential academic activities, to participate in surveillance testing, seek medical care at Student Health, or pick up grab-and-go food orders at the Brodhead Center."

1:10 p.m.
On Saturday, 500 people got a COVID-19 shot at Peace Missionary Baptist Church in south Durham.

Eight Black and Latino churches across different faiths pulled off the COVID-19 vaccine clinic with the help of Durham County Public Health and the state health department.

Those churches included:

Peace Missionary Baptist Church, Fisher Memorial United Holy Church, Monument of Faith Church, Northeast Baptist, Nehemiah Christian Center Church of God in Christ, and a network of other Latino churches included in the Durham Chapter of the North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations (NCCLO).

Black and brown faith leaders met with those health agencies several weeks ago seeking help for their parishioners who were concerned about access.

"We want the vaccine. We just can't get it. And they felt they were somehow being excluded. They were being overlooked," said Rev. Gregory Ceres, senior pastor of Peace Missionary Baptist Church. "We tried to assure them that we as church leaders were advocating for them."

Reverend Gregory Ceres says his community sees this sacred space as a trusted and accessible place to get the vaccine.

12 p.m.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 2,034 new COVID-19 cases.

Six fewer people are being hospitalized throughout North Carolina, bringing the total to 964. This is the third-straight day hospitalizations have been below 1,000.

Throughout the state, 15 more people have died from the virus. That brings the death total to 11,820 statewide.

The state percent positive increased to 4.9%.

9:05 a.m.

The Durham VA Health Care System is hosting a COVID-19 mass vaccination Saturday and is accepting walk-in appointments for enrolled veterans.

Enrolled veterans that were unable to schedule an appointment over the phone can walk in and receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Veterans that are not enrolled in VA may register Saturday at the Durham VA Medical Center in order to receive the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.

Walk-in appointments are until 3 p.m.

7:30 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 29,730,475 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

FRIDAY

5:02 p.m.
Orange County reports 63 new cases in the past seven days for a total of 7,875 COVID-19 cases. There have been 99 deaths in Orange County.

4:46 p.m.
Cumberland County has dropped from the Orange Tier to the Yellow Tier of the NC County Alert System, county officials said. Cumberland County's COVID-19 positive test rate is at 6.4%.

The Department of Public Health reports 13 Cumberland County residents died from the coronavirus since the beginning of March, bringing the total to 289 deaths. There have been 25,173 cases reported since the onset of the pandemic.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 14.1% of Cumberland County's population is at least partially vaccinated and almost 10% is fully vaccinated.

"There are nine providers in our County offering vaccinations at 15 locations, so our citizens have several options on where to be vaccinated," said Dr. Jennifer Green. You can find your spot at https://myspot.nc.gov/.
Vaccine Clinic Information

Cumberland County continues to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics to individuals in Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. An online application form allows individuals to choose their own appointment date and time for the first dose and second dose of the vaccine. Second doses are automatically scheduled after the first dose is received.

There will be a clinic for first doses Saturday at the Crown Complex from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments are required.

The clinic schedule for next week is:
  • Tuesday: Second doses; appointments only. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. No standby lane.
  • Wednesday: First and second doses; appointments only. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. No standby lane.
  • Friday: First doses; appointments only. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4. Standby lane from 3 to 5 p.m. for eligible individuals.


Click here to make an apopointment or call (910) 678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1:52 p.m.
The Johnston County Health Department has scheduled a first dose drive-thru clinic on March 24th from 8 a.m. until supplies last at North Johnston High School at 5915 US Hwy 301 North in Kenly.

People seeking a vaccination should enter the back entrance of North Johnston High School on Watson Road (near the athletic fields). The Health Department will be administering the Pfizer vaccine at this clinic. People younger than 18 need an adult present to receive the vaccine. Patients will need a second dose between 21 and 42 days after the first dose.

The first dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic is for individuals in Group 1 (health care workers, long-term care staff and residents), Group 2 (adults 65 and older), Group 3 (frontline essential workers are people who: Must be in-person at their place of work and work in one of the eight essential sectors which include critical manufacturing, education, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community services, health care and public health, public safety, transportation, and Group 4 (anyone 16-64 years old with one or more high-risk medical conditions for severe disease from COVID-19, people living in close group settings and essential workers).

Vaccinations will be administered on a first-come, first-serve basis until the capacity of 2,000 doses has been reached.

If you are planning to attend a vaccination clinic, please complete the Prevaccination Checklist and Registration forms.

1:18
The Halifax County Health Department reports four new cases for a total of 5,088 total positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death was reported for a total of 103 countywide.

1:03 p.m.
The Orange County Health Department unveiled a new online registration system for residents seeking to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"The automated system will help the county manage the COVID vaccine distribution more effectively," said Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. "We hope to receive more vaccines as supply increases, and this system will help us distribute them quickly."

Residents are asked to save (919) 913-8088 and covid19vaccine@orangecountync.gov as trusted contacts to avoid the calls and emails being treated as spam when receiving replies from the health department.

Individuals who can't access the Internet or need assistance filling out the form can register by calling (919) 913-8088 seven days a week, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Spanish and other languages are available.

12:30 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department is taking first-dose appointments by online registration only for groups 1, 2, and 3 and newly added Group 4 members: Adults at high risk for exposure and increased risk of severe illness:

  • Anyone 18-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions that increase risk of severe disease from COVID-19 such as cancer, COPD, serious heart conditions, sickle cell disease, Type 2 diabetes, among others, regardless of living situation
  • Anyone who is incarcerated or living in other close group living settings who is not already vaccinated due to age, medical condition or job function
  • Essential workers not yet vaccinated. The CDC defines these as workers in transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, food service, shelter and housing (e.g., construction), finance (e.g., bank tellers), information technology and communications, energy, legal, media, public safety (e.g., engineers) and public health workers


First-dose appointments are being accepted by online registration only for March 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Griffin Centre on the campus of Halifax Community College 200 College Drive in Weldon.

Anyone not able to secure an appointment, please email Covid-19@halifaxnc.com and share your name and phone number. You will be placed on a waitlist. Should an opening become available, you will receive a call giving you the opportunity to accept an appointment to receive the vaccine.

12:28 p.m.
Sampson County reports 30 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 7,378. In all, 96 deaths have been reported in Sampson County.

11:45 a.m.
Friday's report from the NCDHHS included 1,915 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. 970 people are currently hospitalized; 25 less than yesterday.

The daily percent positive rate was 4.0%.

22 more deaths were reported today. Sadly, 11,805 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

11:18p.m.
Wake County Public Health is partnering with the Apex Mosque to provide 200 COVID-19 vaccinations today to Islamic residents. The event will be from 3:30 p.m.to 6 p.m. at the mosque at 733 Center St.

The event will take place in the gymnasium, which is in the rear of the mosque.

10:45 a.m.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made it official: Schools are now asked to allow for 3 feet of distance between students and staff in elementary schools.

The guidance comes after a study found no detectable difference in COVID-19 infection rates among young children who were properly wearing masks standing 3- or 6-feet apart.

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As always, masks are key. At times when it's not possible to accommodate masks, like when eating, CDC says six feet of distance should be maintained.



The recommendation stands even in communities where COVID-19 transmission is high, according to a CDC statement released Friday. Middle schools and high schools in communities of high transmission are still asked to stay 6 feet apart.

5:40 a.m.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could announce a change to its COVID-19 school guidance.

The agency is reportedly considering reducing the recommended space between students from 6 feet to 3 feet. This decision could come as early as Friday.

New evidence that it may be safe for schools to seat students 3 feet apart - half of the previous recommended distance - could offer a way to return more of the nation's children to classrooms with limited space.

Even as more teachers receive vaccinations against COVID-19, social distancing guidelines have remained a major hurdle for districts across the U.S. Debate around the issue flared last week when a study suggested that masked students can be seated as close as 3 feet apart with no increased risk to them or teachers.

Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the research looked at schools in Massachusetts, which has backed the 3-foot guideline for months. Illinois and Indiana are also allowing 3 feet of distance, and other states such as Oregon are considering doing the same.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now exploring the idea too. The agency's director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said the 6-foot guideline is "among the biggest challenges" schools have faced in reopening.

The CDC included the larger spacing in its latest school guidelines, which were issued in February and concluded that schools can safely operate during the pandemic with masks, distancing and other precautions. It suggested 6 feet and said physical distancing "should be maximized to the greatest extent possible."

Other organizations have issued more relaxed guidelines, including the World Health Organization, which urges 1 meter in schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics says to space desks "3 feet apart and ideally 6 feet apart."

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES

Vaccine appointments will get back on track Friday after being postponed Thursday due to the threat of severe weather.

Wake County inoculation sites are increasing capacity today to make room for the people who were supposed to get vaccinated yesterday.

If you had an appointment Thursday, it will happen at the same time and place Friday. If you had an appointment Friday, nothing has changed.

That means Wake County sites will need to give out double the number of vaccines today.

COVID-19 testing was also canceled Thursday, but normal testing hours resume Friday.

THURSDAY
5:24 p.m.
Governor Cooper on Friday will see vaccinations at the Vidant/Pitt Large-Scale Vaccine Clinic in Greenville, his office announced.

4 p.m.
With the U.S. closing in on President Joe Biden's goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus vaccinations weeks ahead of his target date, officials say the nation is now in position to help supply neighbors Canada and Mexico with shots.

The Biden administration announced the outlines of a plan to "loan" vaccines to Canada and Mexico as the president announced that the U.S. is on the cusp of injecting 100 million doses to Americans- well ahead of his goal of reaching the benchmark within his first 100 days in office.

Biden announced the U.S. will hit the 100 million on Friday-the 58th day of his administration.

3 p.m.
The U.S. is finalizing plans to send a combined 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Mexico and Canada in its first export of shots.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the Biden administration is planning to send 2.5 million doses to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada as a "loan."

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been authorized for use in the U.S. but has been authorized by the World Health Organization. The premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, thanked Biden for his willingness to share the vaccines.

Canadian regulators have approved the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but acquiring them has proven difficult. Canada ranks about 20th in the number of doses administered, with about 8% of the adult population getting at least one shot. That compares with about 38% in the U.K. and 22% in the U.S.

Mexico has fully vaccinated more than 600,000 people and more than 4 million have received a single dose in a country of 126 million.

12:08 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports seven new cases for a total of 5,084 positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 102 deaths -- 2.0% of total cases.

Halifax County is also giving COVID-19 vaccines through 4:30 p.m. at the Griffin Centre on the campus of Halifax Community College 200 College Drive in Weldon.

Vaccinations are available to anyone ages 18 and older, no appointment necessary. Please arrive at the top of the hour or half past the hour.

12 p.m.
Thursday's report from the NCDHHS included 2,004 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. 995 people were hospitalized; 7 fewer people than yesterday.

The daily percent positive rate was 3.9%.

Sadly, 11,783 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

11:30 a.m.
CVS Health will begin to administer vaccines to eligible people as early as Sunday, March 21 at eight additional CVS Pharmacy locations across North Carolina. Appointments for the latest allocation of doses will start to become available for booking on Friday, March 19, as stores receive shipments of vaccine.

Patients must register in advance at CVS.com or through the CVS Pharmacy app, and people without online access can contact CVS Customer Service: (800) 746-7287. Walk-in vaccinations without an appointment will not be provided.

10 a.m.
Walgreens says it is aware of a technical glitch with its scheduler where some patients received confirmation numbers for appointments that were not actually added to the pharmacy's vaccination schedule.

"This issue has since been resolved," a spokesperson said in a statement. "We are committed to honoring vaccination appointments that have been made in our system, and we are working with all patients affected to reschedule their appointments. We apologize for the inconvenience."

9 a.m.
Health experts say the surge in coronavirus cases in Europe should serve as a warning to the U.S. not to drop its safeguards too early.

Optimism is spreading in the U.S. as virus deaths are plummeting and states are easing restrictions.

But across Europe, tighter restrictions are returning amid a surge of cases that are straining some hospitals.

The pandemic's diverging paths on the two continents can be linked to the more successful vaccine rollout in the U.S. and a wave of more transmissible variants in Europe. Health experts add that some areas of Europe also were too quick to relax distancing requirements.

THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
During a news conference on Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen both said they expected all adult North Carolinians to be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, in line with a promise made by President Joe Biden earlier this week.

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Gov. Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen both said they expected all adult North Carolinians to be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.



Many vaccinations and COVID-19 testing sites in North Carolina made changes to schedules on Thursday due to expected severe weather.

Thursday afternoon on ABC11, Gov. Cooper will appear on GMA3: What you need to know. He will discuss the state's HOPE Program -- which helps cover housing and prevent evictions.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 770,000, a sign that layoffs remain high even as much of the U.S. economy is steadily recovering from the coronavirus recession.

Thursday's report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims climbed from 725,000 the week before.

The numbers have dropped sharply since the depths of the recession last spring but still, show that employers in some industries continue to lay off workers. Before the pandemic struck, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any one week.

The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly variations, dropped to 746,000, the lowest since late November.
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