Changes made to North Carolina's COVID-19 restrictions

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

4:15 p.m.
Triangle YMCA said fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask inside YMCA facilities, at YMCA programs, as spectators, while working out, while on the pool deck or while taking an indoor group fitness class.

People who are not fully vaccinated are expected to follow NCDHHS' mask wearing requirements.

All staff, members, guests, etc. can continue wearing a mask if they want.

3:45 p.m.
Commissioner Que Tucker of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association issued the following statement on the removal of capacity limits in North Carolina:

"The NCHSAA is in the middle of Softball and Women's Soccer Championships for this weekend and actively working with our ticketing partners at GoFan to ensure that general admission ticketing is available for the general public for events tomorrow, particularly the softball series at Davie County and North Davidson. For games this evening there will be no changes to the planned ticketing process and procedure."

2 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that the state is completely lifting all mandatory capacity, gathering limits and physical distancing requirements, effective immediately.

Most mandatory mask mandates will also be lifted.

That means that in most settings, indoors or outdoors, the state will no longer require North Carolinians to wear a mask or be socially distant.

Cooper said the mask mandate will remain in effect on public transportation, in child care, in schools, in prisons and in certain public health settings.

1:56 p.m.
State Chief Justice Paul Newby issued a new order amending the order of May 10, 2021, citing revised guidance on face coverings from the CDC. The amendment eliminates the face coverings in court facilities directive and leaves decisions about face coverings in courtrooms to the discretion of local court officials.

1:49 p.m.
The Carolina Hurricanes released a statement reacting to Gov. Roy Cooper's announcement that he is lifting remaining physical distancing and capacity rules.

"Gov. Cooper has been consistent in his message that we would be allowed to host more fans as case levels dropped and vaccination rates increased," President and General Manager Don Waddell said in a statement. "We thank him and Dr. (Mandy Cohen for their diligence in keeping our state safe, and for now allowing more of our passionate fans into PNC Arena to provide to the legendary playoff home-ice advantage our Caniacs can create."

The Canes open the playoffs at home Monday night at 8 p.m. against the Nashville Predators.

1 p.m.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is expected to ease several COVID-19-related restrictions on Friday, including physical distancing, mask and capacity rules, sources told ABC11.

It's unclear whether the governor will completely mirror the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance or if some restrictions will remain.

Full details will be released during a news conference at 1:30 p.m.

Cooper previously announced that the state would likely back off of most COVID-19 restrictions on June 1, but expressed that he wanted 2/3 of adults to be vaccinated before he did so.

12:50 p.m.
White House reporters saw President Joe Biden at an unannounced appearance outside the West Wing, where he was posing for departure photos with Meredith Webster, Susan Rice's Chief of Staff at the Domestic Policy Council, and her family.

"Are you enjoying your first day without masks?" shouted CBS's Ed O'Keefe.

"Yes," replied the president, over his shoulder, as he walked back towards the West Wing lobby entrance.

12:41 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports six new cases for a total of 5,596 positive COVID-19 cases. In all, 112 people have died from COVID-19 complications in the county -- 2% of cases..

12:29 p.m.
The Hindu Society of North Carolina is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic Saturday, offering Pfizer vaccines for anyone 12 years and older. It will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at HSNC, 309 Aviation Parkway in Morrisville. Click here for more information.

12:24 p.m.
NCDHHS said there are 1,501 new cases for a total of 989,338 statewide. The increase is 22% lower than last Friday (1,932 cases). The percent positive also declined to 3.8%, a slight decline from the previous day 4% and the lowest since March 11.

In all, 926 people were hospitalized in the latest report compared to 1,106 at the same time last week.

Nine additional deaths were reported, for a statewide total of 12,862.

Vaccinations continue to increase as 40.6% of North Carolina's population and 51.2% of adults have received at least one dose. In all, 36.2% of the state's population is fully vaccinated while 45.9% of adults are fully vaccinated.

12:19 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health will temporarily reduce its vaccination clinic hours to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the week of May 17, 2021 because of concerns about the gas shortage.

Clinic hours are expected to return to normal the following week.

"We want to ensure that our nurses, other clinic staff, and guests are able to travel safely to and from our clinic," said Health Director Rod Jenkins. "Right now, gas shortages have impacted our clinic staff's ability to arrive and provide vaccinations, so we've made the decision to temporarily cut back on our clinic hours."

11:45 a.m.
Senate Leader Phil Berger is encouraging Gov. Cooper to drop the state's mask mandate.

"The CDC finally formalized what many Americans who think for themselves have been doing for months: Those who are vaccinated should resume their normal way of life, and without masks if they so choose," he said in a statement. "Imposing personal restrictions on those who pose no public health risk is senseless and will further undermine what trust remains in public health authorities."

9 a.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper will be joined by members of the state's Coronavirus Task Force to announce changes to the state's COVID-19 executive orders.

The group will speak at 1:30 p.m. ABC11 will broadcast the announcement live on television and in our streaming apps.

This announcement comes less than 24 hours after the CDC released new mask guidance that said fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask inside except in a few special cases.

WATCH: Don't relax your health & safety precautions too quickly, UNC doctor warns
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UNC Dr. Alexa Mieses-Malchuk answers your COVID-19 questions.



FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people Thursday.

If you're fully vaccinated, you can essentially return to life as normal. In the majority of indoor settings, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks.

EXPLAINER: What fully vaccinated people can, cannot do according to CDC's new mask guidelines

The guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues - even removing the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.

This guidance does not supersede state, local or business restrictions that may still be in place. At this time, North Carolina still requires masks be worn by everybody inside buildings.

THURSDAY
5:17 p.m.
Walgreens pharmacies are now offering Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for adolescents ages 12-15 in Durham and Raleigh.

You can schedule a vaccine appointment online or call (800) Walgreens, both available in English and Spanish.

5 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Glenaire, a retirement community at 4000 Glenaire Circle in Cary.

This is the third outbreak at this location. The previous outbreaks happened in June and December.

4:12 p.m.
With vaccine eligibility expanded to those as young as 12, many young teens and preteens are lining up to get their shots.

At WakeMed, Daniel Santana, 15, was among the first adolescents in North Carolina to get the COVID-19 shot after the FDA greenlighted the two-dose Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15.

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With vaccine eligibility expanded to those as young as 12, many young teens and preteens are lining up to get their shots.



"To be honest, I thought it was going to be a little more painful but it was nothing," Santana said.

Twelve-year-old Gavin McLawhorn and 14-year-old Marcus Monroe also rolled up their sleeves at WakeMed in Raleigh. Both of their moms are WakeMed Health and Hospitals doctors.

"I feel that if I do this, I'm influencing a lot of people and future generations to make people not scared of the vaccine because I know a lot of people might be nervous or people are just afraid of needles," McLawhorn said. "Or they don't know what the vaccine might do."

His mother is a WakeMed OBGYN and felt comfortable with her son receiving the vaccine.

"The vaccine has shown very high efficacy, even in children, in preventing COVID," said Dr. Netasha McLawhorn. "I mean, I'm a vaccinator. I do vaccinate my kids from most other childhood diseases so COVID is just another one on our list for me. You know, it prevents people from dying so that is one of the main reasons why we wanted him vaccinated."

In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be 100 percent effective in this age group. There were side effects similar to those reported among adults, such as a sore arm at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, fever and body aches. But no severe allergic reactions or major safety concerns.

Marcus said he's looking forward to going to Disney World when he's fully vaccinated.

Daniel also wants to travel.

"I want to go back to travel a little bit, back to Mexico and be there with my family and kind of just be able to be more free here, have more freedom, have more fun, be at less risk from getting my family or me infected," Daniel said.

Gavin has been attending school virtually but is looking ahead to returning to a school campus.

"I'm virtual right now but once next year rolls around, I will be able to go to physical school again, obviously, and experience more of my school," he said.

Parents can sign their children up for an appointment at WakeMed Health & Hospitals online, over the phone or walk in. WakeMed is encouraging parents to be with their children while they get their shots. But if they can't, they ask for a signed consent form.

Click here for more information from WakeMed.

Reporting by ABC11's Gloria Rodriguez

3:56 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 11 new cases for a total of 5,590 positive COVID-19 cases. One additional death has been added for a total of 112.

3:31 p.m.
Chatham County said it has also expanded vaccine eligibility to those 12 and older.

The Chatham County Public Health Department is offering first- and second-dose Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at its Siler City clinic (1000 S. 10th Ave.) on Fridays. To make an appointment, call (919) 742-5641. Walk-ins will also be welcome.

StarMed Healthcare is continuing to operate Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination clinics at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center in Pittsboro on Fridays and Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call (980) 445-9818. Walk-ins are also accepted.

StarMed Healthcare is providing Pfizer vaccinations at the Goldston Town Hall (40 Coral Ave #A) from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and again on May 26. Second-dose appointments will follow three weeks later. Call (980) 445-9818. Walk-ins are also accepted.

3:10 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper visited Wake County's Human Services Center vaccine site in Raleigh to see people receive their vaccine. The Governor also viewed the drive-thru COVID-19 testing clinic available on-site at the facility.

"These vaccines are safe, effective and available everywhere," Cooper said. "Getting your shot is an easy way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this virus."

This clinic seeks to improve access to the vaccinations by providing walk-in availability as well as appointments and is near a Census tract with an under-vaccinated demographic.

"Local health departments were among the first to assist in responding to COVID-19, and Wake County Public Health will continue to be part of the ongoing management of this pandemic," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chair Matt Calabria. "We have administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, and now we're moving from a mass vaccination model to smaller, regional vaccine centers like the one the Governor visited today. In the coming weeks, we're working to establish more COVID-19 service centers that co-locate testing and vaccination, further increasing convenience for our residents."

3 p.m.
Teens ages 12 and older can now receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from providers in North Carolina. The Wayne County Health Department will be hosting two weekend vaccine clinics to help parents and children receive their vaccine together. Appointments are suggested but walk-ups will also be accepted

Weekend vaccine clinics will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Goldsboro High School, 901 Beech St., in Goldsboro and May 22, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Spring Creek Middle School, 3579 NC-111 in Seven Springs

2:33 p.m.
Appointments for weekly COVID-19 vaccine clinics held at the Moore County Health Department have been expanded to include all people 12 and older and can be made by calling (910) 947-SHOT (7468) anytime Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Health Department will also accept walk-ins on vaccine clinic days which are held on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. Anyone age 12-17 seeking a COVID-19 vaccination must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

On Friday, the Health Department will offer a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at San Juan Diego Mission in Robbins (6963 NC-705 Hwy.) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open to the public and anyone 12 years of age or older is eligible. Vaccinations will be given on a first-come, first-served basis and no appointment is required.

The Halifax County Health Department will offer first-dose Pfizer vaccines to anyone 12 and older by online registration on Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m. at Halifax Community College, Building 700, at 100 College Drive in Weldon. Appointments are preferred however, walk-ups accepted.

The Halifax County Health Department at 19 N. Dobbs St. in Halifax is offering the Moderna vaccine every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, please call (252)-583-5021.

12:30 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,394 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and 4.0% positive tests, the lowest number since last Wednesday.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has remained below 1,000, with 935 in hospitals across the state, eight fewer people than Wednesday.

Twenty-three more COVID-19 deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll for the state to 12,853.

As of Wednesday evening, 51% of North Carolina adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

12:20 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health announced it will offer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 12 to 15. The first opportunity will be Thursday, May 13, at the clinic at Fayetteville Housing Authority Clinic, 229 Lincoln Drive, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

12:15 p.m.
Thanks to a grant from the CDC, UNC-Chapel Hill is working to expand COVID-19 vaccination to more primary care clinics in areas with low vaccination rates.

The $500,000 grant will help provide 18 primary care clinics with the coaching, data and community partnerships needed to get more people vaccinated, especially Black and Latino patients.

11:45 a.m.
Wake County Human Services said 595 teenagers signed up for appointments to get COVID-19 vaccines in the first 12 hours since the county opened vaccinations to 12-15-year-olds. A representative for the county said some teenagers have also shown up to walk-in clinics--mostly with their parents or guardians.

According to Wake County, if a parent or guardian is not present with a teenager when they arrive for their appointment, clinic organizers will attempt to contact a guardian. If no one can be reached, vaccine providers will go over the information with the teenager and assess whether they understand what the shot is and that they are required to return for a second dose.

"Our goal is to inform, follow statute and provide services to minors who desire the vaccine and have decisional capacity," the spokesperson wrote.

The Pfizer vaccine is only being offered to 12-15-year-olds at established vaccine clinics in Wake County--not at community events.

11:30 a.m.
The Durham County health department's vaccination event originally scheduled for Saturday, March 15 in partnership with White Rock Baptist Church has been postponed. A new date has not been announced.

8 a.m.
The Lee County Health Department is now registering children age 12 to 15 with parental consent to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Parents are asked to submit a pre-registration form online at leecountync.gov/covid19.

6 a.m.
Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. have tumbled to an average of about 600 per day, the lowest level in 10 months.

In more than half the states, the number of lives lost per day has dropped to single digits on average and hit zero on some days. Kansas reported no new deaths Friday through Monday. Massachusetts recently had a day of no reported deaths.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University, says vaccinations have been crucial even as the nation struggles to reach herd immunity.

Confirmed infections have fallen to about 38,000 daily on average, the lowest mark since mid-September. They have plummeted 85% from a peak of more than a quarter-million cases per day in early January.

The last time deaths were this low was early July. The coronavirus deaths in the U.S. topped out in mid-January at an average of more than 3,400 a day, just a month into the biggest vaccination drive in the nation's history.

The U.S. has reported 32.7 million cases and more than 582,000 confirmed deaths, the most in the world.

THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES

Starting today, Wake and Durham counties are taking COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids between the ages of 12 and 15.

Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen says having a vaccine for younger teens brings us closer to ending the pandemic.

NCDHHS says the state has close to 800,000 Pfizer first and second doses. They say they're working with pediatricians to make the vaccines available across North Carolina.

This comes after U.S. health advisers endorsed use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday, just as expected new guidelines say it's OK for people of any age to get the shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has unrolled incentives including a weekly $1 million lottery prize and drawings for college scholarships to encourage people to get vaccinated. With three weeks to go before most coronavirus health orders in Ohio lift June 2, DeWine's bid is designed to prevent unnecessary loss of life.

Dozens of school districts around the country have eliminated requirements for students to wear masks, and many more are likely to ditch them before the next academic year.

Where many see a continued need to protect children and teachers who aren't vaccinated against COVID-19, opponents argue that masks make students uncomfortable and mandates impinge on freedom.

At some school board meetings, there's been emotional and highly divisive debates. Most public health experts say it's too early to relax mask rules since few children are vaccinated and they spend hours indoors at school.

Even as some U.S. schools remain closed to minimize infections, districts in states from Alabama to Wyoming decided to ditch student mask mandates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance says schools "should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing."

WEDNESDAY


8:35 p.m.
Wake County Public Health will begin providing Pfizer vaccine to those 12 years and older Thursday.

"We've heard from many parents in Wake County who are excited to get younger members of their families vaccinated," said Matt Calabria, Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. "This is their shot at keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy, while at the same time helping our community get back to enjoying the people and places they love."

It's estimated that about 30% of parents will want to vaccinate their children so Wake County Public Health is preparing for a surge of possibly 20,500 individuals.

"We're looking forward to offering vaccination to yet another eligible group," said Dr. Nicole Mushonga, Assistant Physician Director and Epidemiology Program Director. "Although children don't suffer from the same rates of hospitalization and death as adults, vaccinating children helps us better protect those who are more vulnerable and at risk in their homes and in our community."

There are two clinics administering Pfizer: Wake County Public Health Center, 10 Sunnybrook Road, which offers evening and weekend hours, and Wake County Human Services Center at Departure Drive, which is open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Parents are encouraged to schedule an appointment for their children at WakeGov.com/vaccine. They can also be scheduled by calling the hotline at (919) 250-1515. Walk-ins are also welcome.

7:30 p.m.
Starting this week those 12 and up can begin receiving the Pfizer vaccine as long as they are accompanied by a parent after U.S. health advisers endorsed use of the vaccine.

At Cape Fear Valley North campus off Ramsey Street, parents lined up first thing to make sure their kid was able to get in.

Parent Marva Moore says getting her 13-year-old Tyler vaccinated was a no-brainer, "I've been waiting for this day and monitoring it - it's very important we can get these kids vaccinated and get back to some normalcy."

With vaccine hesitancy still high and almost half the population vaccinated, Cape Fear officials say it's important to help stop the spread through our young people and the results they have seen are positive.

"The side effect profile is very similar to what you see in adults, we started yesterday with some of these 12-15 years old and they all had the same zero to minimal side effects," said Amanda Wright with Cape Fear Valley.

As for those getting the shot Wednesday it was to protect everyone else as well as themselves.

"Just getting the shot makes me feel more confident that I'm not going to give it to someone I'm babysitting or my grandmother or anyone I come in contact with," 13-year-old Mary told ABC11.

Appointments can be scheduled at these locations:
  • Health Pavilion North ExpressCare in North Fayetteville: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Address: 6387 Ramsey Street in North Fayetteville.
  • Bladen Express Care in Elizabethtown: Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    Note: This clinic does not make appointments through the website. Patients may call Express Care to make an appointment at (910) 862-2122.
    Address: 107 E. Dunham St. in Elizabethtown.
  • Hoke Pharmacy in Raeford: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Address: 300 Medical Pavilion Drive, Suite 100, off Highway 401 in Raeford inside Hoke Pavilion Medical Office Building. Individuals will pull in the main entrance and follow the instructions for parking in the main lot.
  • Center Pharmacy in Downtown Fayetteville: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Address: 101 Robeson Street, Suite 107, in downtown Fayetteville. Individuals will park in the main lot and enter the pharmacy through the main entrance


6:05 p.m.
Beginning Thursday, at 9 a.m., the Durham County Department of Public Health will open its vaccination clinic for COVID-19 vaccination walk-ins and appointments for people ages 12-15.

All people ages 12-15 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian age 18 or older to receive their vaccine.

Walk-in hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Walk-in vaccinations will be available for first and second doses for all people ages 12 and older. You can also make an appointment at (919) 560-HELP (4357).

The DCoDPH vaccination clinic is on the second floor of the Durham County Health and Human Services Building, 414 E. Main St., Durham.

5:07 p.m.
The Wayne County Health Department will be hosting two weekend Pfizer vaccine clinics for anyone needing a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Appointments are preferred (make one here) but walk-ups will also be accepted.

Weekend vaccine clinics will be Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Goldsboro High School, 901 Beech St., in Goldsboro and May 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Spring Creek Middle School, 3579 NC-111 in Seven Springs.

In addition to these clinics, the Health Department has transitioned all weekday first-dose appointments back to the Health Department building at 301 N. Herman St. in Goldsboro. To schedule a weekday vaccine appointment, click here or call (919) 731-1000 and press No. 1.

4:26 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports just three new cases for a total of 5,579 positive COVID-19 cases. The death toll remains at 111 -- 1.99% of cases.

4 p.m.
U.S. health advisers endorsed use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday, just as expected new guidelines say it's OK for people of any age to get the shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations.

1:30 p.m.
North Carolina has 1,493 new cases for a total of 986,443. The daily case count is slightly higher than the same time last week and back over 1,000 after two days below that mark.

The daily percent positive rate declined, however, from 5.5% the previous day to 5.3 percent.

Hospitalizations also declined, with 933 people reported as inpatients for COVID-19 treatment. That's 35 fewer than the previous day and a 10% decrease since last week.

NCDHHS said 29 additional deaths were reported, for a total of 12,830 statewide.

In all, 40.3% of the full NC population has received at least one dose of vaccine and 35.6% of the state's population is fully vaccinated.

9 a.m.
NCDHHS said its COVID-19 Support Services Program, as of Wednesday, has helped more than 41,800 NC households isolate or quarantine during COVID-19.

The program offered financial relief payments, COVID supplies, transportation and medication delivery.

NCDHHS said in a news release that the "types of services offered through the program will now narrow" because much of the funds have been spent.

WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is set to vote Wednesday on making the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available for children as young as 12 years old.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for that age group Tuesday.

The CDC will meet around 11:30 a.m. to talk about the vaccine's safety and efficacy on teens. Plus, the CDC will discuss recommendations for implementing thos shots.

Fewer Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine than just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how the shots were tested still hold some back, according to a new poll that highlights the challenges at a pivotal moment in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

Just 11% of people who remain unvaccinated say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won't, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

TUESDAY
12:58 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health will partner with White Rock Baptist Church to offer COVID-19 vaccines to the community on May 15. This event is free and no identification is required.

The event will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at White Rock Baptist Church; 3400 Fayetteville St. in Durham. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be offered.

Appointments are optional. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 560-HELP (4357).

12:24 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports 699 new cases and 968 people hospitalized for COVID-19.

The daily percent positive is at 5.5% and there have been 12,801 deaths reported since the start of the pandemic.

As for vaccinations, 50.7% of the state's adult population is at least partially vaccinated.

12 p.m.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens will reopen to the public on June 1 at limited capacity. Masks will be required in restrooms but not outside, except where social distancing isn't possible.

Group visits will not be allowed.

The garden will be open every day from 8 a.m. to dusk.

11:30 a.m.

Cape Fear Valley Health's vaccine clinics will start vaccinating children ages 12 and older on Tuesday.

Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be offered for children following the FDA's emergency use authorization.

"We anticipated and are prepared for the expansion of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for individuals aged 12 to 15", said Chris Tart, PharmD, Vice President of Professional Services. "We are glad to see access increased for the Pfizer vaccine to this age group, which is another step in getting the country to herd immunity and ending the pandemic."

The clinics are accepting walk-in patients until capacity is reached.

UNC doctor to people considering skipping 2nd vaccine: 'Please don't'
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UNC Dr. Alexa Mieses-Malchuk answers your questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.



11 a.m.
For the first time in more than a year, Museum Park Theater will host concerts filled with people.

North Carolina Museum of Art is partnering with Cat's Cradle to bring visitors back to the park for a pair of concerts, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2020 Amphitheater Concert Season.

"There is hardly a better feeling than a concert in the Museum Park Theater under the stars," said Valerie Hillings, Museum director. "We can't wait to safely welcome visitors back for a memorable concert season."

The concerts will be September 22 and October 31.

The September concert features Big Thief, and tickets go on sale May 13 for members and May 14 for non-members.

The October concert features Pink Martini and China Forbes. Tickets go on sale May 20 for members and May 21 for non-members.

Click here for more info.

9 a.m.
Colleges and universities across the nation can now start tapping into $36 billion in relief funding that Congress approved in March, the Biden administration announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Education Department said it's starting to steer the funding to more than 5,000 public and private colleges. The funding was included in a $1.9 trillion relief package that also included $123 billion for K-12 schools.

The higher education aid is being allocated to public and private institutions using a formula that factors in the share of low-income students they enroll. Colleges must spend at least half the funding on direct relief for students. The other half can be used on a variety of expenses related to the pandemic.

In a reversal from Trump's policy, the Biden administration said student grants can be given to international students and those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the funding makes sure the hardest hit students "have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate and pursue their careers."

Broadly, the guidance says colleges should use the funding to support vulnerable students, reduce the spread of the coronavirus and retain students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic.

8 a.m.
Fewer Americans are reluctant to get a COVID-19 vaccine than just a few months ago, but questions about side effects and how the shots were tested still hold some people back. That's according to a new poll that highlights the challenges at a pivotal moment in the U.S. vaccination campaign.

The survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that just 11% of people who remain unvaccinated say they definitely will get the shot, while 34% say they definitely won't. That leaves a large swath of Americans in the middle who might still roll up their sleeves.

TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
North Carolina's Health Secretary said the state is still working toward a time when the indoor mask mandate can be lifted.

Dr. Mandy Cohen said the benchmark for eliminating that requirement is having at least 66 percent of adults in the state fully vaccinated. Right now, about half of adults are at least partially vaccinated.

"Before we get rid of that indoor mask mandate, which I know everyone wants to get rid of, we've got to work a little bit harder over the next couple of weeks and months to get more folks vaccinated and then hope to, again, put this pandemic in our rearview mirror," Cohen said.

WATCH: Dr. Cohen talks the Bringing Summer Back campaign
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The May dates began May 9 and run until May 21. In June, the campaign is in effect from June 6-12 and again from June 20-26.



That update comes as the FDA authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12 years old.

Meanwhile, baseball is returning to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for the first time in more than a year.

The Durham Bulls will host Jacksonville starting tonight at 6:30. The teams will play six straight days in Durham.

Tickets are limited, as seating at the park is available in socially-distanced pods.

Baseball is also returning to Fayetteville, with the Woodpeckers set to play at their home park tonight for the first time in over a year.

First pitch at Segra Stadium is also scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.