North Carolina remains near bottom in COVID-19 vaccinations

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

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3:30 p.m.
Less than half of North Carolinians eligible for a COVID-19 shot are fully vaccinated even though there are more than 2.1 million doses waiting on shelves for residents to take. Less than 118,000 residents came in for a first dose in the two weeks since the state announced four $1 million prizes would be given out to vaccinated adult. North Carolina ranks 12th-worst in the nation in vaccines administered per capita. It is second-worst among states with a Democratic governor. Those lagging numbers were the context under which President Joe Biden visited Raleigh on Thursday to urge North Carolinians to come in for a COVID-19 vaccine.

3:20 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is going to close the vaccination site at the Crown Coliseum on June 30.

The health department said they are doing that so they can focus vaccination efforts in other areas of the county.

The Health Department will continue to host vaccination clinics at the Health Department located at 1235 Ramsey Street in Fayetteville. It will also continue community outreach.

"Closing the Crown Coliseum is a natural next step for us in this pandemic as our numbers at the Crown have steadily declined," said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director. "We look forward to continuing our outreach efforts and meeting the community where they are."

1:30 p.m.
Bladen County's low vaccination rate is leading to COVID-19 spread, NCDHHS said on Friday.

The county has a vaccination rate of only 33%.

The health department said the county is experiencing critical viral spread and increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The COVID-19 County Alert System report shows the county is now red.

"What's happening in Bladen County is preventable," said North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "More than 99% of new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are in people who are not fully vaccinated. Vaccines are working."

According to NCDHHS, in the past 3 weeks, nearly 60% of new cases in Bladen County have been associated with a COVID-19 cluster in one zip code, the Bladenboro community. At this time, there have been approximately 81 cases and one death linked to that area, officials said. More than 64% of cases are in people age 49 and younger, and overall 63% of cases are among white people and 15% are among Black/African American people.

"Bladen County Health Department will continue to make sure it is easy and convenient to get your COVID-19 vaccine in our communities," said Terri Duncan, health director. "The vaccine is safe, free, and effective, and it will help prevent more people in our county from dying from this disease. If you haven't gotten your shot yet, now is the time."

12 p.m.
388 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday.

The percent of positive tests in the state is at 1.9%.

427 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

So far, 13,412 people have died from COVID-19 in North Carolina.

55% of the adult population in the state has at least one dose of the vaccine.

6:05 a.m.
Flight Day returns to Dix Park this weekend.

Bring your kites or other homemade flying machines for a fun afternoon with YMCA guides.

The event is from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. Tickets are available here, but they are not required.

The event will feature food trucks and pets are welcome (as long as they are on a leash).

Flight Day is an annual event, but like many, it was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
President Joe Biden spent a few hours in Raleigh on Thursday, at a campaign-like event where he encouraged more Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The president praised the effectiveness of the vaccines and the hard work of health care officials to get vaccines into arms.

However, the country remains shy of the vaccination goal of 70% that Biden set weeks ago. The White House has since said it doesn't expect to reach that goal.

He also stressed the importance of the vaccine in slowing the Delta variant of COVID-19.

"This new, dangerous variant continues to emerge," Biden said. "It's now the most common variant in America and here (in North Carolina). And unvaccinated people are incredibly vulnerable."

THURSDAY
4 p.m.
President Joe Biden arrived in Raleigh just about 15 minutes later than expected Thursday afternoon.

The 46th President of the United States was scheduled to arrive at Raleigh-Durham International Airport at 3:30 p.m. However, he was slightly delayed, as the president spoke around 2 p.m. about a new bipartisan infrastructure deal.

He scheduled this visit to encourage more people in our state to get vaccinated.

3:48 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports just two new cases since June 17 for a total of 5,679 total positive COVID-19 cases.

Two additional deaths were reported in the last week and the county total stands at 114.

11:38 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said there are 394 new cases.

The daily percent positive stands at a satisfactory 2.1%. In all, 55% of the state's adult population is at least partially vaccinated.

There have been 13,408 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

11:20 a.m.
Shaw University is eliminating outstanding balances for students who owed money for summer classes.

The HBCU in Raleigh cited hardships from the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason for the generosity.

For more, click here.

10:35 a.m.
The national eviction moratorium designed to help tenants unable to may rent payments during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended.

The moratorium was scheduled to end June 30, but the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that the moratorium would be extended until July 31.

The White House said the eviction moratorium is designed to be temporary but hasn't revealed exactly how to transition away from it without massive social upheaval.

8:20 a.m.
An advisory panel at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19 booster shots may not be necessary.

The panel said at this time there is not enough evidence to support recommending booster doses for any of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

The experts on that panel said that could change as more data becomes available--including research on the spread of COVID variants and how well doses protect people long-term.

Top officials for the companies who produced the vaccines have previously said booster shots will likely be needed.

5:26 a.m.
One lucky North Carolinian is $1 million richer this morning, but that person's identity remains a mystery.

The state held its first ever vaccination lottery Wednesday. Officials used a random number generator to pick a winner from the pool of people vaccinated against COVID-19.

State health officials then had to figure out who corresponds with that randomly generated number and double check that the person is eligible to win the money.

Once that's done the state will contact the winner via email or phone.

The process could take several days, but whoever does win will be required to let the state publicly identify them.

5 a.m.
Free food is being handed out Thursday to any family in need.

It's happening at Carrboro High School between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Officials with Orange County and the Town of Carrboro will be placing boxes of food in trunks of cars.

The drive-thru event is open to any family in need.

Face masks will also be given to anyone who asks for them.
Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.