Wake County to receive 5,200 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as this week

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

SUNDAY

7:30 p.m.
A joint statement from the president of Duke University Hospital and senior vice president of Duke University Health System said it is preparing to expand its vaccination clinics to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine -- at this time they are unaware wen they will receive its allocation.

7 p.m.
UNC Health expects to receive 4,100 Johnson & Johnson doses this week, 3,600 of which will go to UNC's largest vaccination clinic, the Friday Center.

Since the clinic opened on Jan. 11, UNC officials said it has administered more than 32,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This week, UNC Health officials expect to pass 200,000 total doses given.

4:50 p.m.
Wake County is slated to receive 5,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as early as this week following emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.

County health officials are already working with various communities to distribute doses once they arrive.

9:40 a.m.
Cape Fear Valley Health's COVID-19 vaccination clinics are now open to frontline essential workers, including all of Group 3.

Due to high turnout of local childcare school workers combined with decreasing demand in other eligible groups, Cape Fear Valley Health is moving forward with the next phase, ahead of schedule.

"This is a very broad category that includes most workers, if they are working in-person with others or the public," said Chris Tart, PharmD, Vice President of Professional Services at Cape Fear Valley Health. "If you're not sure whether your job fits in this category, we encourage you to go online to www.capefearvalley.com/covid19 to schedule your vaccination and find what group you fit in."

NCDHHS defines "frontline essential workers" as people who must be in-person at their place of work and work in one of the eight essential sectors including: education, critical manufacturing, essential goods, food and agriculture, government and community Services, health care and public health, public safety and transportation. Any frontline essential workers ages 18 and older are now eligible as part of Group 3 to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from one of Cape Fear Valley Health's vaccination clinics, in addition to individuals in Groups 1 and 2 - healthcare and long-term care workers and anyone aged 65 and older.

7:20 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 28,554,724 COVID-19 cases in the United States since the pandemic began.

SATURDAY
6:15 p.m.
The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.

FDA advisers sign off on Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Here's what happens next

12:05 p.m.
North Carolina is reporting 2,643 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 858,548.

There have been 26 deaths due to the virus, bringing the total of deaths to 11,212.

Throughout the state, there are 1,414 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. That is 51 down from Friday,

The state's percent positive test rate 5.4%, which is up slightly from Friday's 4.7%.

There will be no NCDHHS COVID-19 dashboard update on Sunday, Feb. 28.

7:25 a.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there have been 28,486,562 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

Fauci warns progress in COVID fight appears to have stalled

Overnight, the House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate.

The overall relief bill would provide $1,400 payments to individuals, extend emergency unemployment benefits through August and increase tax credits for children and federal subsidies for health insurance.

MORE: Highlights of the COVID relief bill as it heads to the Senate
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The COVID relief bill heads to the Senate: What's in it for you?



FRIDAY
6:26 p.m.
The Chatham County Public Health Department began vaccinating Pre-K-12 teachers and staff and child care workers ages 45 and older against COVID-19 during a mass vaccination clinic at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center in Pittsboro.

Along with 20 doses administered Thursday, the 560 doses administered Friday brought the CCPHD's total to more than 4,000 doses of the COVID-19 since vaccinations began in early January. Well over half of the doses have been given to people 65 and older.

"We are honored to be able to continue to vaccinate healthcare workers and older adults while also serving Chatham County's school and child care staff," said Chatham County Public Health Director Mike Zelek. "We have all benefited from the hard work and dedication of these teachers and staff, both at the child care and PreK-12 level, and to vaccinate them against COVID-19 is the least we can do to repay them for their service."

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) COVID-19 vaccination database, 14,660 Chatham County residents had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine through Feb. 25, accounting for 19.7% of the county's population. Additionally, 9,551 Chatham residents have received their second dose, representing 12.8% of the population. Both of these percentages are among the highest in the state.

The CCPHD is anticipating receiving 600 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine next week in the second installment of a three-week guaranteed allocation from NCDHHS. These doses will be used at future vaccination events.

The CCPHD's upcoming COVID vaccination event schedule includes:
  • Monday: First and second doses for Groups 1 and 2, and first doses for PreK-12 staff and child care workers
  • Friday: Second doses for individuals that received their first doses during the Feb. 5 event at Roberts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Goldston


5 p.m.
Many COVID-19 restrictions placed upon bars, restaurants and many other venues are now at ease for the first time in a year.

Read the loosening of restrictions here.

4:55 p.m.
The Lee County Government Health Department announced that it will expand vaccine registration to include all individuals in Group 3 of the North Carolina vaccine rollout plan beginning Monday.

People will be allowed to register but they will not receive vaccine until or after March 10.

The health department also reported that six county residents have died of COVID-19 related complications. This raises the total number of COVID-19 deaths confirmed in Lee County to 73 since the first case was reported in March.

4:32 p.m.
Orange County has a total of 7,623 cases, including 156 in the past seven days. In all, 93 COVID-19 related deaths have occurred in the county.

3:40 p.m.
The Moore County Health Department has been notified of the deaths of two Moore County residents whose deaths were determined to be related to COVID-19 infection.

The two are both men older than 75. In total, 166 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 in Moore County.

Of the deaths, 92 are linked to outbreaks in long-term care facilities.

2:53 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health has closed its online scheduling system effective immediately as the health department explores "new online options."

Appointments already scheduled through the online booking system are not expected to be canceled, but people who have scheduled these appointments will be contacted with more information.

"With our original booking system, there were challenges in ensuring we'd have sufficient supply to meet the number of appointments scheduled," said Health Director Rod Jenkins. "Because supply remains uncertain, and upon the recommendation of the State, we hope to move toward an online scheduling system that allows us to more easily book appointments that are in line with the vaccine supply we have been guaranteed."

When public scheduling reopens, the health department said it expects to provide appointment options no more than two weeks in advance of the appointment date. New scheduling processes will also aim to ensure appointments are only filed by individuals who are currently eligible to be vaccinated, the department said.

"With the old online system, our team was spending time canceling appointments for individuals who were ineligible to be vaccinated or who had already received vaccinations elsewhere. Fortunately, our waitlist was in place and allowed us to fill large numbers of appointments that became available on short notice, but we are always looking for ways to make our processes faster and more efficient," Jenkins said. "When we are able to provide a new online booking option, we will prioritize making sure our appointments are filled only by individuals who still need them and are eligible to receive them."

Also, the department's scheduling phone line remains closed for public use because of limited vaccine supply. A reopening date has not been determined.

Durham will continue to use its waitlist to notify people of doses that become available because of appointment cancellations, no-shows, or other last-minute vaccine availability.

2:44 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 20 new cases for a total of 4,992 positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death was reported for a total of 97.

2:25 p.m.
The Durham VA Health Care System said it just received authorization to expand which veterans are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. This means the COVID-19 Vaccine is available for more veterans.

There are 800 first-dose appointment slots available for the VA's Veteran Vaccination Blitz event this weekend to be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Veterans should call (919) 286-0411 then press "0" to speak with the operator to determine eligibility and schedule their appointments. Veterans who schedule their first-dose appointments this weekend should plan to attend their second-dose appointments on March 20 in Durham.

Veterans are required to be enrolled in the Durham VA Health Care System to be vaccinated but it is not required that you receive care through the Durham Medical Center to be vaccinated in Durham. Any eligible veteran who has transportation to Durham can schedule an appointment.

2:04 p.m.
Sampson County reports 103 new cases, more than double the previous day, for a total of 6,922 positive test results. The death toll remains at 91 countywide.

There is a drive-through vaccination clinic planned for Saturday for childcare and grade-school employees at the Sampson County Expo Center from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. This is a first-dose vaccination event. Participants are encouraged to bring their teacher IDs or another form of employee identification. Vaccines will be available as supply allows.

12:25 p.m.
Friday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services included 2,924 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. There were a total of 1,465 hospitalizations.

The daily percent positive rate was 4.7%, a slight increase from yesterday's 4.5%.

Sadly, 11,186 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.

11:16 a.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at Spring Arbor of Raleigh, an assisted living and memory care facility located at 1810 New Hope Road.

This is the first outbreak at this facility.

8:18 a.m.
Cumberland County continues to offer free drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinics for those in Groups 1, 2 and the first sector of Group 3. An online application form now allows individuals to choose their own appointment date and time for the first dose of the vaccine.

Individuals from Group 3 who are now eligible include workers in PreK-12 schools (public, charter, private/non-public schools) and childcare settings only.

All County clinics take place at the Crown Expo Center (1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville NC).
Appointments are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A Standby lane (first-come, first-served in eligible groups) opens on Fridays, from 3 to 5 p.m., or as supplies last.

  • Tuesdays: 2nd dose appointment only. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No standby lane
  • Wednesdays: 1st and 2nd doses appointment only. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. No standby lane
  • Fridays: 1st dose only. Appointments from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Standby lane from 3 to 5 p.m. for individuals eligible in Groups 1, 2, and 3 (childcare/Pre-K-12 school staff) only.


Anyone who has received their first dose at the Crown Expo Center on or before Jan. 26 should request an appointment for their second dose or use the standby lane. Individuals who received their first dose at the Crown Expo Center on or after Jan. 27 are automatically scheduled for their second dose and do not need to request an appointment.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Some COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina will be lifted at 5 p.m. today.

Restaurants, gyms and stores will be able to open past 10 p.m., and alcohol sales can take place up to 11 p.m.--which is two hours later than the current curfew.

Bars, movie theaters and smaller venues can operate at 30 percent capacity. Gyms, restaurants, museums, pools and outdoor amusement parks can open at 50 percent capacity. Big indoor sporting and entertainment venues--like PNC Arena and the Dean E. Smith Center--can open at 15 percent capacity.

WATCH: Gov. Cooper explains decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions
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Governor Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced significant rollbacks of restrictions on businesses and other venues.



Plus, another COVID-19 vaccine could be authorized for emergency use today.

The Federal Drug Administration will have a hearing on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If approved, the company said it could ship up to 4 million doses Monday.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine and it does not require ultra-cold storage.

If approved, health experts said the three vaccines should account for enough doses to vaccinate 130 million adults--or about half of the US population.

THURSDAY
9:45 p.m.
Cumberland County Schools - 43% of its 8,000 full-time and part-time employees have been vaccinated. At this rate, Director Of Health Services Shirley Bolden believes every employee who wants a vaccine will get one before their March 15 in-person start date.

Durham Public Schools' officials tell Eyewitness News 422 doses were given out to employees on Thursday.

Johnston County has vaccinated more than 2,000 of their more than 5,000 staff.

ABC11 reached out to Moore, Hoke, and Harnett County schools for numbers; we're still awaiting a response.

Sampson County Schools has had a few dozen teachers get vaccinated with more than 500 signed up. Health care officials will hold a drive-thru vaccination clinic for this new group on Saturday morning at the Sampson County Expo Center.

5 p.m.
Wake County plans to announce updated spectator guidelines sometime next week that are in line with Governor Cooper's ease of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic

The update follows after calls for increased outdoor sports viewing count. As of Wednesday, one petition making rounds in the state has 45,000 signatures.

In the meantime, Wake County sports officials will continue to work on guidelines and keep attendance capped at 100 for outdoor events and 25 for indoor events.

4 p.m.

Starting this weekend, UNC will welcome back its fans with 30 percent capacity at outdoor stadiums and 15% for indoor stadiums with at least 5,000 seats.

This means, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, a limited number of fans will be able to spectate UNC Men's Basketball, Baseball, Women's Lacrosse and Men's Lacrosse games this weekend.

6 p.m.
After months of waiting, 63-year-old Perry Tharrington is one of the first public school teachers in Durham to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

"I feel unbelievable. I feel relieved," said Tharrington. He is a special needs teacher with the district and has a chronic health condition.

The shot makes him feel more comfortable going back into the classroom.

"A real game-changer to have the vaccine before going back live," He said. "So if we do get COVID-19 hopefully it will not be nearly as severe or life-threatening."

Today, the health department vaccinated Durham Public School employees who fall under Group 3. So far 1,800 DPS employees, which is at least 35 percent of its workforce have signed up.

Staff are then prioritized and given appointments based on who will be around the most people at school, which starts next month.

Yesterday in Johnston County, nearly 2,000 teachers received a shot in the arm.

It's not clear if everyone who registered in Durham for the vaccine will get it by the time school starts. And that's a concern for leaders at the Durham Association of Educators (DAE).

"We are the City of Medicine I just feel like if we want our teachers to be face to face with students, our bus drivers, our child nutrition workers, our custodians, all those folks then we can figure out a way to start doing this at a large scale," said Michelle Burton with DAE.

DPS says it's hopeful it will vaccinate all employees but it depends on supply.

In a statement, the district says: The CDC and NCDHHS say that schools may reopen with safety measures in place without full vaccinations, but we realize how reassuring the vaccine is and we are working to provide it as quickly as possible.

In Raleigh on Thursday, 310 Wake County Public School teachers received the vaccine at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. On Saturday, another clinic for teachers will take place at Knightdale High School. Health officials at Wake County Health Department say neighborhoods around those two schools have high rates of COVID-19 spread.

The fastest and most efficient way for Group 3 people to be vaccinated right now remains signing up on our WakeGov.com/Vaccine request form. Group three consists of frontline workers and childcare workers and educators.

In Durham, employees in daycares, other childcare centers, and schools not in the DPS system should have their principal or director email PhPlanning@dconc.gov to coordinate appointment scheduling. All Group 3 vaccination appointments are being scheduled through employers at this time.

2:35 p.m.
The first known case of the B.1.1.7 variant of COVID-19 -- first identified in the UK -- has been confirmed in Durham County.

The county public health department identified the case on Wednesday.

"There have been variant cases found in several other counties across the state, as well as in at least 45 states across the nation, so we did expect that eventually, we would see variant cases here as well," said Durham County Health Director Rod Jenkins.

The Durham County Department of Public Health said the person is currently in isolation and all known close contacts have been contacted.

2 p.m.
At least 3,500 incarcerated people will be granted early release from North Carolina state prisons, according to the NC NAACP and ACLU, after a settlement was reached in NC NAACP v. Cooper, a lawsuit brought by civil rights organizations, three individual incarcerated people, and a spouse of an incarcerated person, challenging the conditions of confinement in North Carolina's state prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the state has 180 days to release 3,500 people currently in its custody.

That window begins once the trial court grants a request to stay the case during that period. The parties jointly filed the stay request Thursday.

"Today's historic settlement is a step forward after nearly a year of advocating for the human lives of our neighbors who, in too many cases, have been treated as disposable," said Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NC NAACP.

1:22 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 12 new cases for a total of 4,972 positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death has been added for a county total of 96 -- 1.9% of cases.

1:10 p.m.
Dr. Anthony Fauci says if a novel coronavirus vaccine is available, regardless of which one, take it.

The top U.S. infectious disease expert told NBC's "Today" show a third vaccine becoming available "is nothing but good news" and would help control the pandemic. U.S. regulators announced Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19. It's expected to be approved soon by the FDA.

Fauci warns people not to hold off on getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while waiting for the slightly more effective two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shots.

He says it's a race "between the virus and getting vaccines into people" and "the longer one waits not getting vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or a mutation."

Fauci says public health officials are always concerned about virus variants and stressed following public health measures of wearing masks and social distancing.

The predominant coronavirus variant in the United States is from Britain. Fauci says the vaccines distributed in the U.S. "clearly can take care of that particular strain."

1 p.m.
NCDHHS on Thursday reported 3,351 new COVID-19 cases in the state.

1,498 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 171 confirmed patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

The percent of positive tests is at 4.5 percent.

The number is a drop from previous days, but an increase in tests was also reported in the last 24 hours, which could lead to a sharper decline in the percentage.

11,137 people have died in North Carolina from COVID-19 since last March.

835,244 people in North Carolina have received both doses of the vaccine.

12:45 p.m.
Sampson County reports 49 new cases for a total of 6,819 positive test results. One additional death was reported for a county total of 91.

There is a drive-through vaccination clinic planned Saturday for childcare and grade-school employees at the Sampson County Expo Center from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. This is a first-dose vaccination event. Participants are encouraged to bring their teacher IDs or another form of employee identification. Vaccines will be available as supply allows.

11 a.m.
Two separate teams of researchers said this week they have found a worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast that carries mutations that help it evade the body's natural immune response -- as well as the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.

Genomics researchers have named the variant B.1.526. It appears in people affected in diverse neighborhoods of New York City, they said, and is "scattered in the Northeast."

10:30 a.m.
There's new evidence that connects testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies from prior infection with a significantly lower risk of becoming infected again in the future.

A study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Wednesday, found that people who tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies were at a decreased risk of coronavirus infection compared with those who tested negative for antibodies.

THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
High School football returns to the Triangle on Thursday night after an extended absence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leesville Road High School is hosting Cardinal Gibbons High School at 6:30 p.m. in the ABC11 Game of the Week.

Student-athletes and fans in the stands will be required to wear masks at all times. There will be fans in the stands, but for now, it will only be the immediate family of players on the home team.

That is a Wake County Public School System policy. However, it's unclear if that policy will be adjusted as the season moves forward--especially in light of Gov. Roy Cooper's decision to ease some COVID-19 restrictions starting Friday.

SEE MORE: Details behind Gov. Roy Cooper's rollback of COVID-19 restrictions

Cooper's decision means Caniacs will be back at PNC Arena soon. The Carolina Hurricanes will be allowed to host about 2,800 fans at home games under the new restrictions.

Team President Don Waddell said that won't give the teams a major boost financially, but it is a significant moral victory.

"We want to prove to everybody and make sure that we do everything in a very safe manner," Waddell said. "But more importantly, for our customers to feel like they're being watched out for. So they feel that they can come back to the hockey game and enjoy it without having to worry about it."

Duke University said it plans to finish the season without any spectators inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.

UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham welcomed the new guidelines. He said the university is working on ways to safely bring fans back to games. He said the university would place a priority on getting family, friends, students and Rams Club members into the Dean E. Smith Center.

One of the largest crowds in North Carolina will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend. The large outdoor venue will be allowed to fill 30 percent of the seats.

Meanwhile, the peak of the 2020-2021 flu season features a stark decrease in infections as compared to previous years.

Flu cases and hospitalizations are the lowest they've been in decades. Experts say mask-wearing and social distancing related to COVID-19 precautions are the main reason for the low flu numbers.
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