Wake County to resume usage of Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week

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

MONDAY
3:20 p.m.
Wake County will resume usage of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine later this week.

Last Friday, state and federal agencies reaffirmed their confidence in the J&J vaccine following a brief pause.

Triangle clinics resume use of Johnson and Johnson vaccine after brief pause

Wake County has 7,902 doses of the vaccine in storage at this time. The first J&J clinics are planned for Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Ting Park in Holly Springs.

"As with everything we have done in the past, we want to offer the choice of J&J for those who are seeking that unique one-shot vaccine," said Ryan Jury, Wake County Public Health's Vaccine Branch Director. "Safety during and after vaccination are very important to us. Health and safety have always been a guiding principle for Wake County Public Health."

2:30 p.m.
Lee County health officials are reporting 75 more COVID-19 cases since last Monday. There have been a total of 76 deaths from the virus in Lee County since the pandemic began.

11:45 a.m.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,334 new COVID-19 cases.

The state is reporting a 6.5% positive test rate.

Throughout North Carolina, 78 fewer people are being hospitalized for the virus. There are currently 1,067 COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in the state.

On Monday, the state reported 37 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 12,560.

As of Monday, 48.2% of the adult population in North Carolina is vaccinated with at least one dose.

SATURDAY
2 p.m.
A free walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic is available in Durham Saturday afternoon.

The clinic is being held at CityWell United Methodist Church at 2317 Chapel Hill Road in Durham.

No registration is required and Spanish translation is available.

US lifts pause, allowing Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations to resume

FRIDAY

12:15 p.m.
Friday's report from the NCDHHS included 2,167 newly-reported COVID-19 cases and 1,145 hospitalizations.

The daily percent positive rate was 5.1%.

47.7% of adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose. 37.3% have been fully vaccination.

Sadly, 12,523 people have died since the start of the pandemic.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES

A committee within the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will meet today to determine what to do with the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Use of that vaccine has been paused for over a week while researchers look into a possible link between the vaccine and dangerous blood clots.

A woman in her 50s from Oregon died this week from a rare blood clot less than two weeks after getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

A handful of other women have reported blood clotting issues shortly after getting the vaccine. The vaccine has been given to more than 6 million Americans, so experts say the risk appears to be about one in a million.

The CDC committee meeting begins at 11 a.m. A vote is expected by the end of the day.

The committee has a few options: it could fully resume use of the vaccine, recommend its use for certain demographics, or delay making a decision.

The committee's recommendation will then be considered by the entire CDC.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, the state reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in a week--although the rate of positive tests fell to under 5 percent, its lowest mark in nine days.

THURSDAY
3:19 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen visited a vaccine clinic at Mission Health / Asheville-Buncombe Technical Conference Center to see people receive their vaccines.

"The quicker more people get vaccinated, the sooner we can turn the corner on this pandemic," Cooper said. "Getting vaccinated is easy and everywhere, and it's safe and effective, so do it now for your family, your friends and yourself."

Next week, Cooper will issue an Executive Order outlining safety restrictions for the month of May.

"Thanks to collaborative community partnerships, we are making steady progress in our vaccination efforts here in Buncombe County," Buncombe County Public Health Director Stacie Saunders said. "Partnerships with the Community College, Mexican Consulate, YMCA, faith community, aging services and other providers have helped to ensure that the vaccine reaches every corner and community in Buncombe County with equity and efficiency."

1:57 p.m.
The NC House voted 112-1 to pass House Bill 334 - Temporarily Align PPP Treatment to Federal Treatment, which will provide tax relief for small businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the bill's second reading on the House floor, House Finance Chairman Rep. Keith Kidwell, R-Beaufort, offered an amendment that would extend tax relief to thousands of North Carolinians who were unemployed during the COVID pandemic.

The amendment brings North Carolina in line with the federal CARES Act of 2020 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 by excluding unemployment compensation from taxpayers' gross income up to the amount specified under federal guidelines. The provision will apply for taxable years of 2020 and 2021.

"We should not be taxing COVID Relief money," said Rep. Kidwell. "The federal government got it right, forty-seven other states got it right, and it is time for North Carolina to correct its position on the issue."

House Bill 334 was filed by Rep. Ray Pickett, R-Ashe, and Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, to reduce the tax burden on small businesses who utilized PPP loans to keep employees on the payroll and keep their businesses open.

"This is a commonsense bill to help North Carolinians who have been dealing with the significant economic impact of COVID-19," Pickett said. "For this situation, we felt it was best to simplify the process, align with the Federal tax guidelines specified in the American Rescue Plan, and save folks a little more money towards the bottom line."

Specifically, the bill would allow PPP loan recipients to deduct expenses paid for by the loans. Currently, North Carolina is one of only three states that do not allow business owners to deduct expenses paid for by PPP loan funds.

1:56 p.m.
The 4th Fighter Wing is hosting a COVID-19 mass vaccination line for authorized TRICARE beneficiaries at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Fitness Center on Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine are available for anyone 16 years of age and older. Persons must have a valid DoD ID card and be TRICARE authorized for healthcare in Military Medical Treatment Facilities.

1:27 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 14 new cases for a total of 5,436 positive COVID 19 cases. Deaths remain at 108, or 2% of cases.

12:44 p.m.
NCDHHS is reporting 2,236 new cases for a total of 954,765. It's the first time above 2,000 cases since Saturday but still fewer cases than a week ago at the same time.

The percent positive is 4.9%, the lowest in nine days and certainly welcome news to NCDHHS, which has 5% set as the target high. A day earlier,it was 7%.

Hospitalizations fell by 19 from Wednesday, with a total of 1,149 people in the hospital. The number has decreased for the second day but it is still 13% above last Thursday's level

Twenty-five more deaths were added, bringing the statewide total to 12,505 since the start of the pandemic.

In all, 37.5% of the overall population has been partially vaccinated and 28.9% of the overall population has been fully vaccinated.

10:52 a.m.
CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham is holding a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

No registration is required, Spanish translation is available.

The church is at 2317 Chapel Hill Road.

10:27 a.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced the Bringing Summer Back get-out-the-vaccine campaign that hopes to engage community organizations across the state to fully vaccinate as many people as possible by summer.

To date, more than 3.6 million adults in North Carolina have been vaccinated with at least one dose. While the state has made great progress in helping people schedule and get to their vaccine appointments, more than half of the adult population is still completely unvaccinated, putting them at higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus, NCDHHS said.

The Bringing Summer Back campaign will run during two weeks in May (May 9-15 and May 16-21) and two weeks in June (June 6-12 and June 20-26), during which organizations across the state will rally together to promote vaccination.

8:12 a.m.
Free drive-thru COVID-19 testing is available at three new Wake County park locations through the weekend, with one permanent testing site transforming into a vaccination drive-thru for the next three days.

Wendell Community Center, at 601 W. 3rd St. in Wendell, has been open to free testing seven days a week, but from April 22 through 24 the park site will transform into a free drive-thru vaccination clinic. Appointments for free COVID-19 shots are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Saturday. Just click here to schedule an appointment. This site will return to testing on Monday, April 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In Wake County, COVID-19 positive cases have been nearly stable - with only a 1% increase in cases comparing March over April. However, in the last two weeks, Wake County has seen a 9.4% increase in positivity and a 16.4% increase in hospitalizations. The highest positivity rates are in the 25-49 age group. Anyone with any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 is urged to get a free test, regardless of vaccination status or prior infection.

Three local parks will offer free testing weekly from Thursday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in rotating locations. These convenient sites make it easy for people who live in these communities to get tested. All sites are free, and residents do not need an appointment, insurance or ID. Sites will offer walk-up testing for anyone who does not have a car.

Park locations for Thursday through Saturday, April 22-25 are:
  • Sanderford Road Park, 2623 Sanderford Road, Raleigh, NC 27610
  • Carolina Pines, 2305 Lake Wheeler Rd, Raleigh, NC 27603
  • White Deer Park, 2400 Aversboro Rd, Garner, NC 27529


THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
North Carolina could be fully reopened as early as June 1.

Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday he planned to lift all social distancing, capacity and mass gathering restrictions by the start of June as long as key COVID-19 numbers remained steady.

However, you will still be required to wear a mask while out in public.

Cooper said he thought the mask mandate would remain in place until at least 66 percent of North Carolinians get fully vaccinated.

Currently, just 36 percent of adults in the state are fully vaccinated--although 47 percent are partially vaccinated.

A Raleigh church is hosting a vaccine clinic for the LGBTQ community.

Raleigh Pride and the LGBT Center of Raleigh partnered with St. John's Metropolitan Community Church on Maywood Avenue to create the clinic.

The clinic has around 200 doses of Moderna. Anyone interested in getting vaccinated at this location should click here to register.

Lastly, an advisory panel with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will meet tomorrow to discuss the future of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Experts have been investigating the vaccine after a small number of people who received the vaccine developed blood clots.

A regulatory group working for the European Union said it had identified a possible link between the vaccine and the blood clots, but that group still determined that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

The CDC advisory panel is expected to come to a similar conclusion as the European Union regulatory group.
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