Durham, Wake County COVID-19 hotlines open this week to schedule vaccinations

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

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NCDHHS' Your Spot, Your Shot information

MONDAY MORNING STORYLINES



Durham County COVID-19 vaccinations will be available Tuesday for medical workers and those 65 and older. Starting Monday, you can call to arrange a vaccination through the health department. You can call (919) 560-4357 to make an appointment beginning at 8:30 a.m.

In Wake County, phone lines open at 8:30 a.m for the same group on Tuesday. The number to call is (919) 250-1515. You can find the nearest site to get a vaccine through ABC11's COVID-19 tracker.

Doctors are hopeful about vaccines making their way across the Triangle. The UNC Health system has given out approximately 41,000 doses so far.

"If you had told me in November or December that we're already in our second group of immunizations of community people in the second week of January, I'd have said 'no way,'" said Dr. Sachin Gupta with UNC Health. "Yet here we are and we're already talking about immunizing our second group of people, those 65 and older."

The U.S. is nearing the 400,000 death mark from COVID-19 and could pass that as soon as Monday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, North Carolina will not release COVID-19 statistics on Monday.

SUNDAY


6 p.m.
UNC Health gave out 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the past week -- mostly -- at the high-efficiency center at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill.

On Monday, 850 doses will be administered there.

"If you had told me in November or December that we'd already be in our second group of immunizations of community people in the second week of January, I would've said no way," said Dr. Sachin Gupta, Triangle West Network Medical Director for UNC Physicians Network. "Yet here we are talking about immunizing our second group of 65 and older and I think that's a huge win."

UNC Physicians Network is the community facing arm of the healthcare system.

Dr. Gupta is in charge of overseeing clinics opened across the state -- in Johnston, Wayne, Nash as well as three in Wake County -- to supplement the high-efficiency center in Chapel Hill.

He stressed that it is not nearly as simple as opening up a flu vaccine clinic. Part of the challenge is each recipient needs to be registered with the state when getting the vaccine, on top of that, there are two doses.

There are also logistical challenges when it comes to handling it, Dr. Gupta understands everyone's frustration with the pace of it all and he said the best thing to do is continue calling your primary care provider and checking the state's website to figure out when it is your time.

"This is everyone's first pandemic so I think there's probably a lot of lessons learned here," he said. "Knowing that in the public-facing vaccines, we're in day 10, there's a lot of learning that needs to happen, there's a lot of coordination. I think we're very lucky."

UNC said 41,000 doses have been administered across their health system so far. Officials want to ramp that up as much as vaccine supply allows.

11:05 a.m.
North Carolina is reporting 6,811 COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total amount of cases to 674,637.

Throughout the state, 67 more people have died from the virus. That brings the total amount of deaths to 8,083.

With 94 percent of North Carolina hospitals reporting, 3,862 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down 33 from Saturday.

The state is reporting a 10% percent positive test rate. That is down slightly from Saturday's 11.8%.

Since March, the state has administered 8,022,425 COVID-19 tests.

The state will not report new COVID-19 metrics on Monday due to the holiday. The next update will be Tuesday, Jan. 19.

7:20 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 23,759,711 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

SATURDAY

6 p.m.
People in Cumberland County who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations lined up for available shots on Saturday. Hundreds arrived at the Crown Complex and waited in their cars hours before the clinic's scheduled start time at 9 a.m.

County health director Jennifer Green told ABC11, "We've done mass vaccination clinics for other outbreaks, but nothing of this magnitude. The size and the scale of it is part of the challenge. We have our registration team that comes out to your car, and they'll register you before you get into the building. Then when you're in the building we have you in and out. A nurse comes and sticks your arm, makes sure we can fit you appropriately, fills out a simple form, and then they're out the door. So it's a very quick process, once you're in the building."

She knows some people in the Black community mistrust the vaccine and wonders if it's safe.

"I think those fears are valid," she said. "We have lots of systemic racism and we have historical traumas in our community. Communities of color have been on the frontline in the middle of the pandemic as our teachers, our daycare workers, our healthcare workers and I want them to be safe. I feel confident in the vaccine."

RELATED: 'I feel great': Fort Bragg nurse combats skepticism surrounding COVID-19 vaccine

The county manager shared these details about the process with Eyewitness News:

The Health Department has scheduled clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Crown Complex and will hold another special Saturday clinic on Jan. 23. Individuals should come prepared to wait by bringing food, water and any medications that may be scheduled. Visit the County's vaccine website for additional instructions.

The Health Department launched an appointment request process for morning slots starting Jan. 19. The appointment request form is posted on the County's COVID-19 Vaccine page at co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19vaccine.
Appointment slots each day will be from 9-11 a.m. and from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. After 1 p.m. each day, the clinics will provide vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis. Traffic lanes will be set up in the Crown parking lot for the designated groups.

The form requests basic information about the individual seeking an appointment. If the person is eligible under the current vaccination phase, the Health Department will call the person to confirm eligibility and schedule an appointment slot to receive a vaccine. Individuals can expect to receive a call from the Health Department staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment slot. The department will attempt to call each individual two times.

Due to high call volumes, individuals will not be able to schedule an appointment by calling the Health Department. If you need assistance filling out the appointment request form, call (910) 678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call takers will only assist in filling out the request form. They are not the appointment schedulers.

Learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccination phases on the County's vaccination page at co.cumberland.nc.us/covid19vaccine or call 910-678-7657.

Find the latest information, visit the County's website at co.cumberland.nc.us. Information is also posted on the County's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

11:30 a.m.
North Carolina is reporting 7,986 COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total amount of cases to 667,826.

Throughout the state, 83 more people have died from the virus. That brings the total amount of deaths to 8,016.

With 97% of North Carolina hospitals reporting, 3,895 people are battling COVID-19 in the hospital. That is down 21 from Friday.

The state is reporting a 11.8% percent positive test rate, that is up slightly from Friday's 11.2%.
9:25 a.m.
More COVID-19 vaccinations are underway in Fayetteville Saturday at the Crown Expo Center. Vaccines will be administered to those 65 and older along with healthcare workers who have in-person contact.

The Cumberland County Department of Public Health vaccinated 1,072 people at its COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic held at the Crown Complex Friday.

The clinic runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another clinic will be held on Jan. 23.

ABC11 crews at the scene said around 400 cars are in line for the vaccine.

7:25 a.m.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been 23,532,604 COVID-19 cases throughout the United States.

FRIDAY

10 p.m.
As counties across North Carolina move into vaccinating people 65 and older, Donna Wiles says she's glad to see a more simplified vaccine distribution plan in place.

"I do like what they've done in just making it simpler to under, so you know exactly who's going to come up next," Wiles said.

The longtime Cumberland County teacher has been a strong advocate for keeping classes online to protect teachers and faculty from COVID-19. She, like many frontline essential workers, were next in line, until the state moved that collection of people into Group 3.

While that means Wiles won't get the vaccine any time soon, she says she's lucky enough that Cumberland County Schools has chosen to remain online for the next couple of months.

In Wake County, Apex resident Donna Hayes says she wishes the county was able to meet the large demand. "I am concerned about the inequality of the distribution of the vaccine."

Hayes' daughter is a Wake County teacher. "I think that the more vaccines they can get out the faster...the better they're going to be."

8:30 p.m.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases has reached 23,503,587 and there have been 391,624 deaths attributed to COViD-19.

Worldwide, the number of cases stands at 93,765,725 with 2,006,611 deaths recorded.

6:08 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health vaccinated 1,072 people at its COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic held at the Crown Complex. The department is offering the coronavirus vaccine to people ages 65 and older and all healthcare workers who have in-person patient contact.

The next vaccination clinic will be held at the Crown Expo Center on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Vaccine will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals should come prepared to wait and bring food, water, and any scheduled medications.

"We are fortunate to have a facility like the Crown Expo Center where we can conduct a drive-thru clinic inside," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. "We were able to ramp up our staffing today and extend our hours, which allowed us to vaccinate more than 1,000 people."

The Health Department has scheduled clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Crown Complex and will hold another clinic on Januar. 23.

For more information, visit the County's vaccination page or call (910) 678-7657 weekdays.

6 p.m.
This week, the CDC revised their vaccine rollout guidance, adding people 65-74 years old in the next eligible group, a move NCDHHS has now adopted.

"From 75-plus to 65-plus went from around 50-53,000 people who could be invited or want to get the vaccine, to around 133,000 people," said Dr. Jason Wittes, Wake County's Pharmacy Director.
According to the 2019 US Census Bureau, the population of people 75 and older in North Carolina was 703,445, while the population of people 65-74 years old was 1,047,490.

"It's very clear from all the data in the state that mortality is directly proportional to age. And there's no hard and fixed cut off where mortality jumps at 65 or 70. It's quite clear that it escalates exponentially at a certain tier," said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke.

"The new guidelines that expand the groups that will be able to get vaccinated will enable those in the field providing the vaccine to actually get the vaccine into the arms of people in North Carolina. And we know that the data shows over the age of 65 are the most heavily impacted in terms of deaths and serious illness," added Dr. Leah Devlin, a member of the North Carolina COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee.

By expanding who can receive the vaccine, health officials are hopeful it will speed up the overall process. Not including long-term care settings, North Carolina has administered 238,344 first doses thus far, about 1/3 of their supply. Of that group, 44,271 have received the full vaccine regimen.

"The speed is the real issue at this point, so that we can quickly move through the priority groups and reach as many people as we can in North Carolina, with an eye toward equity," said Devlin.

"I like seeing all my appointments full on a day. That means that I know that I'm going through all my doses, and my goal is to run out of each week so that way my next allocation from the state can be fully put to use. I wish we had more doses so we can have more appointments," said Wittes, who added they have received 5, 850 vaccine doses thus far, and have administered around 3,600 shots. He anticipated they would exhaust that supply by the end of next week.

Wake County is opening up their scheduling on Tuesday, January 19 at 8:30 a.m. However, it will not be first-call, first-served.

"You'll call, you'll be triaged. And then at the end of the day, we have an algorithm set up thru our IT and IS system, that on January 19th you'll be then notified of when you fall into the appropriate category to schedule your vaccine and come here on site," said Wittes.

People can sign up through appointments over the phone by calling (919) 250-1515 or online at wakegov.com/vaccine. The county has partnered with an independent call center to bolster its abilities to handle traffic and it will be accessible 24/7.

"When we became a provider of COVID vaccine, we said to the state that we'd make it available to any North Carolina resident. So technically, there is no restriction based on that. However, from travel purposes and things like that, we encourage you to go to your local health department or local hospital system, just out of convenience," said Wittes.

Durham County, which began their scheduling Friday at noon, reported heavy call volume. People can call 919-560-HELP, which is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


4:37 p.m.
Wake County residents ages 65 and older and healthcare workers who are interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine can join our waiting list, starting Tuesday. Wake County Public Health is using a new system to help match the demand for shots with supply of vaccine.

"We don't want our seniors standing out in the cold, waiting for hours to get vaccinated against this dangerous virus," said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria. "This new system will enable them to schedule an appointment when it's their turn, so they'll know exactly when and where to get their shot."

On Tuesday, residents in Groups 1 and 2 will have two ways to tell Wake County Public Health that they're interested in getting vaccinated - a special phone line and an online tool.

"We know that not everyone has access to a computer, especially right now," said Wake County Pharmacy Director Dr. Jason Wittes. "That's why we're providing multiple ways for residents to connect with us and get in line for the vaccine."

Wake County Public Health is working with a company that will answer calls to the new vaccination phone line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The phone number - which will not go live until Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. - is (919) 250-1515.

Wake County Public Health also will have an online tool to help people join the waiting list for the vaccine starting Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

4:33 p.m.
Orange County reports 452 new cases in the past week for a total of 5,883 COVID-19 cases. There have been 68 deaths countywide.

3:49 p.m.
The Lee County Government Health Department has revised plans for the upcoming drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled on Tuesday, January 19 and Tuesday, January 26 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in an effort to improve traffic congestion and wait times. The clinics are for registered participants only; individuals not registered are not eligible to participate in the clinics.

"While we are pleased with the number of individuals we were able to vaccinate at our drive-thru clinic on Tuesday, January 12, we recognized the need to adjust our plans to help improve traffic flow and wait times," said Heath Cain, LCG Health Department Director. "We have reviewed our registration lists and reconfirmed clinic assignments and times with individuals assigned to participate in the January 19 clinic. We stress that there is vaccine available for everyone scheduled to participate and we ask participants to come during their allotted time."

On Tuesday, the Health Department will hold a drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center at 1801 Nash Street in Sanford. This clinic is for registered participants only receiving their first dose of vaccine. All clinic participants must enter the Civic Center from Nash Street coming from the east (from direction of Broadway Road/Main Street). All individuals registered for the January 19 clinic are asked to arrive during their allotted time (9 a.m. - noon or 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.) as assigned and provided by the Health Department. Participants are asked to adhere to the schedule and arrive during their allotted time to avoid unnecessary traffic build-up and long wait times. There is vaccine available for all registered participants.

Upon entering the vaccination site, registrations will be confirmed with staff. If you are not registered for this specific clinic, you will be turned away. Participants will be provided with a vaccination record card - KEEP THIS CARD! Once registration is confirmed, you will proceed to the nurses' station in your vehicle to receive your vaccination. After receiving your vaccination, you will be directed to a parking area and asked to wait fifteen minutes to ensure you do not have any adverse reactions. Staff will be available in this area to help answer any questions you may have.

On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, the Health Department has scheduled another drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. This clinic is for registered participants only receiving their second dose of vaccine.

The Health Department has two dedicated phone lines for vaccine registration - (919) 721-4769 and (984) 368-2112. The lines are open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

For additional information, please call the Lee County Health Department at (919) 718-4640.

3:10 p.m.
Sampson County reported 70 new cases for a total of 5,789. There have been 72 deaths countywide.

On Tuesday, Sampson County will begin accepting vaccination appointments for those 65 years of age and older.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling the Sampson County COVID19 Helpline at (910) 4901056, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Because of the high volume of incoming phone calls, you may
experience a busy signal. You may also need to leave a message. If you do so, someone will contact you within 24 hours.

2:40 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCoDPH) appointment scheduling phone line is now available.

To schedule an appointment, medical providers and individuals age 65 and older can call (919) 560-HELP (4357) to make an appointment.

At this time we are experiencing extremely high call volume. Though we are working to answer calls as quickly as possible, callers may receive a busy signal or an error message indicating that the phone line is disconnected when they call. These are both indicators that the phone line is fully busy. Callers are encouraged to hang up and try again," the health department said.

Vaccines provided at the health department and at Southern High School are available by appointment only. Individuals eligible to be vaccinated must call the appointment line.

Calls will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center will be closed January 18 in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

1:31 p.m.
An offender at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Butner II has died from COVID-19 complications.

Prison officials said the 55-year-old man was taken to a hospital on January 4 with labored breathing. He tested positive for COVID-19 at the hospital.

On January 14, the man's condition worsened and he died at the hospital. Officials said he did have long-term, existing medical conditions.

12:20 p.m.

The race to get vaccinated continues in Cumberland County. The vaccine is being distributed on a first come-first served basis, and those waiting say it's worth every minute.

"Whatever I have to do to get the vaccine is what I'm going to do," said Jean Beck.

The 66-year-old Fayetteville resident has seen first-hand the relentless wrath of COVID-19. She hasn't seen her grandchildren in a year and just recently lost her brother in law due to complications of the virus. This vaccination could be her only line of defense.

"He had dementia. They put him in the hospital for such a long time. They couldn't get anyone to come help them," said Beck.

The Cumberland County Health Department is offering 800 doses of the Pfizer vaccines to people ages 65 and up like 72-year-old Joyce Davenport from Spring Lake who wasn't always on board with the vaccine. She changed her mind after her sons, who are on dialysis, refused to see her.

"I didn't want that to happen. He's doing so well. The other is doing good. Let me go ahead and get it so I can go back to doing the routine. The mama thing they call it," said Davenport.

The drive-thru vaccination clinic in Cumberland County is drawing a lot of interest among locals. You don't have to be Cumberland County resident to get vaccinated, but officials encourage residents to get vaccinated locally.

Chopper 11HD flew overhead Friday morning showing the line snaked through the parking lot outside the Crown Coliseum to meet the demand during this public health crisis.

"We've certainly done mass vaccination clinics for other outbreaks, but certainly nothing of this magnitude. I think the size and scale of it is part of the challenge," said Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

The vaccine rollout nationwide is slow so far. Health officials are doing the best they can to assist the most vulnerable populations first.

Vaccinations will continue tomorrow on a first come-first served basis from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum.

11:50 a.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 49 new cases for a total of 3,674 positive COVID 19 cases. One additional death has been added, for a total of 62 deaths countywide -- 1.67% of cases.

In the last two and a half weeks, the health department said it has vaccinated approximately 1,750 residents.

COVID 19 vaccinations will be offered at Halifax Community College Building 700 on Wednesday, Thursday and next Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. for those 65 and older.

11:45 a.m.
There were 8,914 new cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina in Friday's report from the state Department of Health and Human Services. In the past two days, 28 new outbreaks were reported.

The number of hospitalizations dipped to 3,916, a decrease of 74 from Thursday's record of 3,990. There were 96% of hospitals in the state that reported data.

There were 108 more COVID-19 -related deaths reported, bringing the total since March 2020 to 7,933. On Thursday, 80 deaths were reported.

The state's percent positive testing rate was a tick higher, 11.2%, than Thursday's mark of 11.1%.

Earlier in the week, a technical glitch prevented some laboratory data files from being processed in the NC COVID-19 reporting system likely still impacted the numbers released on Thursday.

9 a.m.
The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Crown Complex in Fayetteville drew lots of attention as Chopper11 HD flew overhead to hundreds of cars in line.

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The clinics are continuing to bring huge crowds out around the ABC11 viewing area.



FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES



Wake County leaders will share details Friday about how you'll be able to register to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The county's eligible residents can register for a vaccine beginning Tuesday. That's when the county will open up the process to all healthcare workers and anyone age 65 and older. It's believed there will be 500 doses for next week, which are expected to go fast.

In Durham County, you can call 919-560-4357 to make an appointment to get vaccinated starting Friday at noon. Vaccinations will start next Tuesday.

Cumberland County is holding a drive-thru vaccine clinic Friday at Crown Complex. The clinic is for all healthcare workers and those 65 and older.
These vaccination pushes all come after North Carolina leaders reworked its phased distribution plan to try and simplify and speed up the process. The changes aim to allow more flexibility for different areas of the state to be able to use the doses they receive.

However, NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen emphasized that the main problem with the vaccine rollout is supply. She admitted that she wants to see a more efficient vaccination process, but said all-in-all the problem is that there are more people who want a vaccine than doses of the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks North Carolina as the 10th slowest state in the nation per capita in vaccine doses administered.

More than 3,7000 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

RELATED: Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine in NC? Tracking availability and progress

THURSDAY


9:25 p.m.
It hasn't been easy for Nancy Sherwood, a Raleigh resident, and her husband, Bill, to keep up with the everchanging COVID-19 vaccine distribution news.

"To feel that, you don't know where to go is probably the most frustrating thing. When, in my mind, you should go to your personal doctor first," Sherwood said.

Amid the transition into vaccinating citizens 75 years or older, Sherwood has made calls outside Wake County to see how soon she and her husband could get vaccinated. Even though they are both 67, Sherwood wants to be in the loop as soon as an opportunity arises.

The grandmother tells Eyewitness News she moved to Raleigh two years ago to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Sherwood says she and her husband tested positive for COVID-19 towards the end of December. "We're both at-risk people. Him based on his lungs and me, I'm, I'm... I was considered a diabetic."

Both have been isolated to different parts of the home and are still recovering from their symptoms. With the NCDHHS announcing a restructuring of its vaccine distribution plan, the elderly couple now qualifies by being over the age of 65.

Many other counties have already moved to vaccinating people 75 and older, with Cumberland County announcing they'd start giving doses to those in the new group by Friday morning. However, for Sherwood's county, they're still not starting the distribution for 75 and older until Tuesday.

Now, with this new game plan, Wake County health officials tell Eyewitness News they expect to update their plans by Friday morning. A spokesperson says the incorporation of the younger age group will mean busier phone lines and more website traffic, stating there are not enough vaccine doses to meet the current demand.

Sherwood says she just wants there to be more consistency with vaccine updates for her and the rest of the senior citizen community's sake.

"They need to do a better job filtering it down to...especially those counties that have a lot of elderly people, especially the rural area," Sherwood said.

7:37 p.m.
The Durham County Department of Public Health will begin vaccinating individuals age 65 and older on Tuesday. All medical providers will continue to be vaccinated as well. Vaccines will be available by appointment only; no walk-ins will be accepted.

Beginning Friday at noon, medical providers and individuals age 65 and older can call the appointment scheduling line at (919) 560-HELP (4357) to make an appointment. This phone line will not be available for appointment scheduling before this time. Calls will be accepted Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"We are excited to begin this next phase of vaccinations in order to help protect even more of our community," said Health Director Rod Jenkins. "However, we do expect a significant number of calls when the line is open, so we ask that callers remain patient as they try to schedule their appointments. It may be difficult to get through at first, but please keep trying. We will provide vaccines to all as soon as possible."

Durham Public Health also announced an additional vaccination day each week at DCoDPH, as well as the opening of Southern High School as a vaccination access site beginning January 19. Vaccine hours at DCoDPH have expanded to include Saturday vaccinations. In addition, in partnership with Duke Health, we will offer vaccinations at Southern High School Monday through Friday. Vaccines at this site will be scheduled by appointment only through the DCoDPH appointment line.

"We are thankful for our partnerships with Durham Public Schools and Duke in order to use Southern High School as a vaccination site. We recognize the urgent need to get vaccines to our community members, so we are working with our staff and with community partners to safely and efficiently ramp up our vaccination efforts," said Jenkins. "By expanding our hours to the weekend and opening an additional vaccination site, we expect to be able to vaccinate an additional thousand people per week, and we will continue seeking additional opportunities for more vaccination sites moving forward."

4:40 p.m.
The Wake County Sheriff's Office has identified staffers as well as residents housed in the Wake County Detention Center (WCDC) and the John H. Baker Jr. Public Safety Center (PSC) that have either tested positive for the virus or have been placed in quarantine pending results of a COVID-19 test.

"No one has ever faced a something like this before," said Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker. "This pandemic has forced us to change our practices and policies constantly to ensure that we do our best to keep staff and residents safe from contracting this potentially deadly disease."

To date, 17 employees have tested positive, 43 inmates have had with positive tests: WCDC: 43 - PSC-56. All positive residents are housed in isolation dorms, separated from general populations and placed in single cells.

3:47 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health will begin offering the vaccine to people ages 65 and older and all healthcare workers at its clinics scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Crown Complex from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the clinics on Friday and Saturday.

"We are doing a big push to get vaccine in the arms of as many of our elderly citizens and healthcare workers as possible in the next two weeks. We are going to increase staffing levels at our drive-thru clinic to create shorter lines and decrease wait times," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

The Health Department has scheduled clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Crown Complex and will hold another special Saturday clinic on January 23. Individuals should come prepared to wait by bringing food, water and any medications that may be scheduled.

The Health Department launched an appointment request process for morning slots starting January 19.

Appointment slots each day will be from 9-11 a.m. and from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. After 1 p.m. each day, the clinics will provide vaccines on a first-come, first served basis. Traffic lanes will be set up in the Crown parking lot for the designated groups.

The form requests basic information about the individual seeking an appointment. If the person is eligible under the current vaccination phase, the Health Department will call the person to confirm eligibility and schedule an appointment slot to receive a vaccine. Individuals can expect to receive a call from the Health Department staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment slot. The department will attempt to call each individual two times.

Due to high call volumes, individuals will not be able to schedule an appointment by calling into the Health Department. If you need assistance filling out the appointment request form, call (910) 678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call takers will only assist in filling out the request form. They are not the appointment schedulers.

2 p.m.
In a news briefing, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen stressed the new vaccine distribution phases were created with the intention of simplifying the process and speeding up vaccination.

"We continue to reiterate the message that we don't want to see any vaccines wasted," Cohen said.

Dr. Cohen breaks down NC vaccine distribution backlog & challenges


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In an exclusive interview, NCDHHS' Dr. Mandy Cohen explained why the vaccine rollout feels to be going slowly in NC.



Cohen added that in the past seven days, the state has increased vaccinations by 133% compared to the previous week, with 326,198 vaccinations given so far.

She also added that because the number of people who can be vaccinated now exceeds the number of doses available, many people will have to wait.

"You can get it now, but that doesn't mean an appointment is available for you today," Cohen said.

Both Cohen and Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry discussed the involvement of the National Guard in North Carolina. Sprayberry said 250 National Guard members will be deployed across the state by the end of next week to help with vaccination sites--both as vaccinators and administrative and logistical staff.

Sprayberry added that anyone who would like to volunteer to help at a vaccination site can sign up here

1:44 p.m.
The City of Raleigh will join other cities, towns, and local governments across the country in a COVID-19 Memorial on Tuesday, January 19 at 5:30 p.m. The National League of Cities is helping to organize this event to remember American lives lost to the pandemic.

It will illuminate several buildings in amber, the designated COVID-19 Memorial color. The locations include: Raleigh's iconic shimmer wall, Memorial Auditorium, the Fayetteville Street Towers and the Raleigh Municipal Building. In Washington, D.C., a ceremony will feature a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

Residents are invited to join the national memorial from home by lighting candles or putting a small light in a window, and taking time to pray, meditate or reflect.

12:35 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced today that vaccine providers that are ready to expand may vaccinate all health care workers and anyone 65 years and older.

"Doctors, hospitals and local health departments are working hard to get people vaccinated. There may be a wait, but when it's your spot, take your shot to stay healthy and help us get back to being with family and friends," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen.

Because vaccine supplies are limited, states must make vaccine available in phases.
North Carolina moves through vaccination phases by aligning to federal priorities while giving local health departments and hospitals the flexibility to move to the next priority group as they complete the previous one and have vaccines available, NCDHHS said. With today's announcement, vaccine providers who are ready may vaccinate adults 65 years and older and health care workers, which will be followed by frontline essential workers, then adults with high risk of exposure and increased risk of serious illness, then everyone. It is the responsibility of all vaccine providers to ensure equitable access to vaccines. This will mean taking intentional actions to reach and engage historically marginalized communities.

"We know that people are doing all that they can to learn about the vaccines so they can make the best decision for themselves and their families. It can be hard to know what is true and what can be trusted. We are here to provide you with honest, factual information," Cohen said.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free of charge, regardless of whether or not people have insurance.However, most doctors cannot provide COVID-19 vaccines in their office at this time.Individuals who are currently eligible and would like to receive the vaccine must make an appointment with their local health department or hospital.

12:12 p.m.
The Sampson County Health Department said it has 132 new cases since Tuesday for a total of 5,719 positive COVID-19 cases.

The number of people who have died in the county remains at 72.

People 75 and older who have not had any vaccination in the past 14 days can now make COVID vaccine appointments by calling the Sampson County Health Department, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (910) 592-1131, ext 4001. Appointments will be scheduled based upon vaccine availability. Expanded opportunities for vaccinations will be announced via the Sampson County Government Facebook and Twitter pages as they are scheduled.

12 p.m.
A technical glitch on Jan. 12 that prevented some laboratory data files from being processed in the NC COVID-19 reporting system likely still impacted the numbers released on Thursday.

Cases and test data reported on Wednesday were lower than they would have been had all data been processed at the standard time. NCDHHS said data reported on Thursday therefore would be higher as it incorporates cases that should have been entered into the system on Jan. 12.

There were 9,853 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday in North Carolina.

3,990 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. 456 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

The percent positive test rate dropped to 11.1 but it's unclear if that number was also impacted by the glitch. A total of 7,285 people have died from COVID-19 related illnesses in North Carolina since March 2020.

11 a.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is planning several large community vaccine events to help vaccinate people currently eligible for the shot.

The large events are expected to allow for more than 45,000 people to receive the vaccine.

Below is a list of the organizations hosting the mass vaccination events. NCDHHS suggests contacting the specific organization in your county to get more information about how to get your vaccine.

  • Bertie County: Bertie County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Buncombe County: Buncombe County Health Department in partnership with Western North Carolina Community Health Services, and Western Carolina Medical Society
  • Cabarrus County: Atrium Health
  • Camden County: Camden County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Chatham County: UNC Health
  • Chowan County: Chowan County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Currituck County: Currituck County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Durham County: Duke Health
  • Forsyth County: Forsyth County Department of Public Health
  • Gates County: Gates County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Guilford County: Cone Health
  • Henderson County: Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Henderson County Department of Public Health, Mountain Area Health Education Center, Pardee Hospital (UNC Health)
  • Hertford County: Hertford County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Johnston County: UNC Health
  • Madison County: Hot Springs Health Center, Madison County Health Department, Mountain Area Health Education Center
  • Mecklenburg County: Atrium Health
  • Orange County: UNC Health
  • Pasquotank County: Pasquotank County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Perquimans County: Perquimans County Health Department (Albemarle Regional Health Services)
  • Pitt County: Vidant Health
  • Wake County: UNC REX Healthcare, Duke Raleigh Hospital, and WakeMed in partnership with community-based physician practices, Advance Community Health, NeighborHealth and others


9:30 a.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday morning that the state would start allowing anyone over the age of 65 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

That's a change in policy from the phased system. The initial phases outlined by NCDHHS allowed people 75 and older to get vaccines when a county moved into Phase 1B.

"Getting vaccines across North Carolina into arms is the number one priority right now," Cooper said on a call with local leaders Thursday morning.

He called on those local leaders to encourage their local health departments to make sure they use up all of the COVID-19 vaccine they are given, and he hopes lowering the age limit for the early vaccines will help.

He also told the leaders they needed to speak up and ask the state if they need any help with anything. He specifically mentioned help with added personnel and technology--saying the state is ready and willing to send resources where they are needed.

SEE ALSO: Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine in NC? Tracking availability and progress

ABC11 is working to uncover more details about Cooper's decision and how the changes will be implemented in the Triangle.
This change comes after North Carolina was identified as one of the worst states in the country for vaccination rate.

"The next few months are going to be tough," Cooper said. "Regardless of how many people we vaccinate, we know that we will not be able to get the required immunity for several months. So our prevention efforts are more important than ever."

WATCH: Cooper announces changes to COVID-19 vaccine rollout
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Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday morning that the state would start allowing anyone over the age of 65 to get the COVID-19 vaccine.



THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES



North Carolina is in the red zone for COVID-19 cases with the 10th-highest rate in the country, according to a new White House coronavirus report. The report indicates there are 101 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the state. Mecklenburg County, Wake County and Guilford County--the three largest counties in the state--represent 23.7% of new cases in the state, according to the report.

Ninety-six counties are reporting increases in infections and the state's case load is higher than the national average when it comes to cases per 100,000 people. All 100 counties have moderate or high levels of community transmission.

The report also notes Americans need to take more precautions "moving beyond what worked in the summer to more layered mitigation."

The Wake County Public School System has a board meeting planned for Thursday and will recommend all students should remain in remote learning until mid-February where they will then reconvene. Right now, students have the option to attend school on a rotational basis.

The meeting comes as COVID-19 cases rise locally, including in east Raleigh and Garner where cases are among the highest in the state. The meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

North Johnston High School in Kenly is hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday as is the parking lot of Palace Pointe in Roxboro. Cars were lining up around 5 a.m. at NJHS on Watson Road behind the school. The clinics are for individuals in Phase 1B, Group 1 which includes anyone 75 years or older.

See where else you can get a vaccine here.

WEDNESDAY


11:15 p.m.
NC State has identified a COVID-19 cluster within its athletics department.

The university, while not disclosing the number infected, says all who tested positive are being isolated and close contacts are quarantined.

A "cluster" as defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is five or more cases that are deemed lose proximity or location.

5:16 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 41 new cases for a total of 3,541 total positive COVID 19 cases. Two additional deaths were added, for a total of 59.

4:50 p.m.
Sampson County Health Department staffers spent the day working at their vaccination clinic, which was very successful, the department said.

About 600 residents received vaccines.

4:40 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at The Retreat at Cary Corner Family Home, an assisted living facility at 10108 Penny Road in Raleigh.

This is the first outbreak at this facility. No additional information about residents or employees within the facility will be disclosed.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people - residents or employees - testing positive for the virus.
3:15 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health now offers residents who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a and Phase 1b, Group 1 (ages 75 years and older), the option of requesting appointment slots for drive-thru clinics offered at the Crown Complex on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Health Department will hold a special Saturday clinic on January 23 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The appointment request form is posted on the County's COVID-19 Vaccine page.

The form requests basic information about the individual seeking an appointment. If the person is eligible under the current vaccination phase, the Health Department will call the person to confirm eligibility and schedule an appointment slot to receive a vaccine. Individuals can expect to receive a call from the Health Department staff between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays to schedule an appointment slot. The department will attempt to call each individual two times.

If you are not eligible for the current phase, you will not be able to schedule an appointment and should wait until your phase opens to try to receive the vaccine.

Because of high call volumes, individuals will not be able to schedule an appointment by calling the Health Department. If you need assistance filling out the appointment request form, call (910) 678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The call takers will only assist in filling out the request form. They are not the appointment schedulers.

"We anticipate receiving a large number of requests for appointments and we will contact individuals in the order their forms are received," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

Appointment slots each day will be from 9-11 a.m. and from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. After 1 p.m. each day, the clinics will provide vaccines on a first-come, first-served basis. Traffic lanes will be set up in the Crown parking lot for the designated groups.

The appointment block system will begin on Tuesday. The clinic scheduled for Friday, Jan. 15, will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals should expect long lines on Friday and come prepared to wait. Bring food, water and any medications that may be scheduled. Visit the County's vaccine website for additional instructions.

For more information, call (910) 678-7657.

1:40 p.m.
UNC Health announced this week it opened more than a dozen clinics across North Carolina to provide COVID-19 vaccinations.

Since last month, UNC Health says it has administered nearly 30,000 vaccine doses, including more than 6,000 second doses to Phase 1a frontline health workers.

Most of the appointment-only sites, such as the largest one at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, opened Monday and began administering vaccines to those in Phase 1b, Group 1 - anyone 75 years and older. The clinics are expected to vaccinate thousands of patients a week, based on the availability of vaccines.

"UNC Health is committed to be a leader in the fight to conquer this virus and end the pandemic," said Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health, the state's largest academic health system.

"I'm incredibly proud of our teams that set up these vaccination clinics so quickly," Burks said. "Our mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of all North Carolinians, and this is another tool in that effort. Since this pandemic began nearly a year ago, UNC Health co-workers have worked tirelessly to treat patients, save lives, find innovative treatments, and now provide these vaccines."

New high-throughput vaccination sites announced this week include:

  • Forsyth County

  • Albemarle

  • Vidant - Eastern sites

  • Cone - Guilford

  • Atrium - Charlotte and surrounding counties

  • UNC - Orange County

  • Duke - Durham
  • WakeMed - Wake County

  • Western NC Collaboration with Dogwood, Mahec and FQHCs


These sites could add a potential of 45,500 weekly vaccinations.

12:25 p.m.
UNC has identified a COVID-19 cluster at Carmichael Residence Hall. The university said the cluster involves students who lived in Carmichael over winter break that were identified through evaluation testing.

A "cluster" is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more cases that are deemed to be in close physical proximity in location.

12:15 p.m.
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have hit another one-day high at over 4,300 with the country's attention focused largely on the fallout from the deadly uprising at the Capitol. The nation's overall death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. It is closing in fast on the number of Americans killed in World War II, or about 407,000.

11:55 a.m.
A technical glitch on Jan. 12 prevented some laboratory data files from being processed in the NC COVID-19 reporting system, NCDHHS announced. As a result, cases and test data reported on Wednesday were lower than they would have been had all data been processed at the standard time. NCDHHS said data reported on Jan. 14 will be higher as it will incorporate cases that should have been entered into the system on Jan. 12, 2021.

Given that, 5,098 new cases were reported on Wednesday -- the lowest the state has seen since Dec. 29.

3,951 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.

497 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

An updated number for the percent of positive tests was not provided on Wednesday.

9 a.m.
North Johnston High School will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic on Thursday.

The Johnston County Health Department scheduled a drive-thru clinic at the school, starting at 10 a.m. The event is expected to draw a big crowd. A similar clinic at West Johnston High School on Tuesday brought out dozens of cars waiting in line before 4 a.m.

The clinic is for those in Phase 1B, Group 1, which includes anyone 75 and older. North Johnston High is at 5915 US Highway 301 North in Kenly.

Meanwhile, many cars were lined up with people awaiting the vaccine in Roxboro on Wednesday morning.

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Cars were lined up all the way out to Durham Road at Palace Point in Roxboro for Wednesday's vaccine clinic.



WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The Person County Health Department has added additional COVID-19 vaccination clinics open Wednesday and Thursday. The clinics are located at the Palace Pointe parking lot at 5050 Durham Road and start at 10 a.m. For more information, check out the county's website.

The added clinics come after news of Person Memorial Hospital having 89% of ICU beds filled with COVID-19 patients. The Roxboro hospital has the highest percentage of COVID-related hospitalizations in the ABC11 viewing area.

The hospital experienced an average of 89 percent of its ICU beds filled each day, according to the latest federal data.

ABC11 has a comprehensive list of where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina with its vaccine tracker.

The 27610 zip code, which consists of east Raleigh and Garner, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, prompting health leaders to saturate the area with drive-thru vaccine clinics.

The Chapel Hill town council will meet virtually tonight and get an update from the Orange County Health Director. The director will talk about the vaccination effort and UNC officials are expected to talk about second-semester plans for students.

New COVID-19 data for North Carolina is expected to be released around noon Wednesday.
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