Wake County students no longer required to wear masks at outdoor activities

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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Have anxiety as restrictions loosen? "Our social skills really haven't been exercised in the last year," says Alliance Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mehul Mankad.



5 p.m.
Starting on Friday at 5 p.m., face coverings will no longer be required for state-sponsored outdoor activities and competitions for Wake County Public Schools.

Despite the new guidance, Wake County Public Schools encourages that student-athletes and teams continue to wear coverings outdoors when they are closer than six-feet apart.

WCPSS also plans to issue updated guidance next week to make face masks optional when outside on all WCPSS properties in accordance with Governor Cooper's newest Executive Order. They will still be required inside and on school transportation.

4 p.m.
Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order No. 210, extending the ABC Commission's authorization to allow the delivery and carry-out of mixed alcoholic drinks through June 1.

"While North Carolina is getting closer to putting this pandemic in our rearview mirror, we know many of our restaurants and bars are still struggling financially, and this will help boost their revenue," Governor Cooper said.

3 p.m.
NCDHHS announced it is expanding eligibility for food assistance benefits to help college students struggling during the pandemic.

The new eligibility means some college students in North Carolina can get assistance through the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) program.

2:15 p.m.
Cumberland County Schools announced a summer learning program for students in grades K-12.

There is an 'invitation only' option for students in kindergarten through 12th grade that can be taken in person or virtually. And there is virtual option open to all students.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastating effects to our local community and the world, but all is not lost," said Dr. Stacey Wilson-Norman, chief academic officer for CCS. "Now is the time for our great comeback. We are reaffirming The Cumberland Commitment: Strategic Plan 2024 and are dedicating significant resources to support students' academic acceleration. We hope all students will join us this summer as we rise up together."

2 pm.
NCDHHS announced it made a temporary pathway available for people who worked in nursing homes during COVID-19 as temporary nurse aides to be listed on the Nurse Aide I Registry.

This pathway allows eligible nursing home staff to use their on-the-job training and experience as an equivalency to traditional classroom training and take the Nurse Aide I competency exam. They can be listed on the registry after successfully completing it.

12:15 p.m.
North Carolina reports 1,985 new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

That's up slightly from the day before, but the percent positive rate dropped from 6.2% to 4.5%.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus increased by 20 to 1,137.

Take a deeper look at the numbers for yourself at the NCDHHS website.

12 p.m.
As of April 29, there are 83,000 North Carolinians who are overdue for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, that is less than 3 percent of the number of people who have gotten their first dose and become eligible for their second dose.

Nationally, that percentage is around 8 percent.



9:20 a.m.
UNC Health vaccination clinics are now accepting walk-ins for the COVID-19 vaccine.

UNC's largest vaccine clinic is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill.

You can still make an appointment at yourshot.org to ensure you have a spot.

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Wake County will resume use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine Thursday.

That vaccine is the one the CDC and FDA paused following a handful of reports of rare blood clots in people who received the shot.

The government uncovered 15 vaccine recipients out of nearly 8 million developed the clot. All were women, most under age 50. Three of them died.

Researchers did not find a specific link between the blood clots and the vaccine, and they determined that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the extremely rare risk.

With the Johnson and Johnson vaccine now authorized for use again, Wake County Public Health plans to give out nearly 8,000 shots Thursday at Ting Park in Holly Springs.

The clinic goes from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and appointments are still available. Click here to get signed up.

Currently nearly half of North Carolina adults are partially vaccinated--200,000 of those residents have already received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

THURSDAY
8:54 p.m.

Three local parks and recreation locations will offer free drive-thru testing starting Thursday and through the weekend, joining the six other permanent testing locations in Wake County.

Residents do not need an appointment, insurance or identification. Sites will offer walk-up testing for anyone who does not have a car.

In Wake County, the current positivity rate stands at 5.4%.

Park locations for Thursday through Saturday, April 29 through May 2, will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

  • Avery Street Recreation Center, 125 Avery Street, Garner
  • Carolina Pines Park, 2305 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh
  • Green Road Park, 4201 Green Rd. Raleigh


4:21 p.m.
The Moore County Health Department, in conjunction with Moore County Schools, is monitoring the status of confirmed positive COVID-19 test results at Southern Middle School in Aberdeen. Since last Thursday, eight students have been confirmed COVID-19 positive.

Guidelines for isolation have been provided to all COVID-19 positive students from Southern Middle. Close contacts of the affected students have been notified and advised to quarantine for a period of 14 days and to consult with their healthcare provider for evaluation and possible COVID-19 testing. In an abundance of caution, a remote learning plan has been implemented for all 6th grade classrooms at the school until May 12.

3:58 p.m.
The Cumberland County Department of Public Health will be offering COVID-19 vaccines at new locations starting Friday.

"COVID-19 vaccines are our best shot to bring back summer and get everyone safely back to the people, places and activities they love," said Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green.

Beginning Friday, the Health Department will offer first doses of the Pfizer vaccine from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Spring Lake Recreation Center at 245 Ruth St., Spring Lake. No appointments are needed.

Vaccinations will continue to be offered at the Crown Complex from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays for second doses and on Wednesdays for first and second doses. Clinics will no longer be held at the Crown Complex on Fridays and will instead be scheduled in various locations in the county.

Here are some upcoming vaccination events in addition to the Crown Complex clinics on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

  • Monday, May 3 - First dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be available at the Health Department, 1235 Ramsey St. Appointments needed.
  • Thursday, May 6 - Fayetteville Housing Authority, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment needed.
  • Friday, May 7 - Family Fellowship, 1014 Danbury Road, Fayetteville, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. First doses appointments are available. Standby lane open.


You can request appointments here. Call 910-678-7657 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you need assistance with the form or have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Individuals who need transportation to and from any vaccination site can call (910) 678-7619 for assistance Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cumberland remains in the Yellow Tier in the NC County Alert System, which indicates significant community spread, according to the most recent data taken from April 15. The County Alert System is updated every other week.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reports 22.8% of Cumberland County residents have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine and 18.8% are fully vaccinated.

Cumberland County's COVID-19 positive test rate is at 8.3%.

There are 14 providers in Cumberland County offering vaccinations at 20 locations. The county has had 27,719 total cases and 299 deaths.

2:10 p.m.
Halifax County reports 11 new cases for a total of 5,497 total positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 108 deaths countywide.

2 p.m.
In a Wednesday afternoon update, Gov. Roy Cooper dropped the requirement for wearing masks outdoors in North Carolina.

As of April 30, masks will no longer be required outdoors.

Masks indoors will still be required. North Carolina's mask mandate went into effect in late June.

Cooper said he will lift the indoor mask mandate once two-thirds of NC adults are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

During the media briefing, questions inevitably turned to the Andrew Brown Jr. case.

"Changes need to be made to made to ensure fairness in our justice system and to stand up against racial injustice in North Carolina," Cooper responded to one of the queries. "I encourage everyone to our task force recommendation as we move forward on those."

1:52 p.m.
The 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is hosting a COVID-19 mass vaccination line for authorized TRICARE beneficiaries at the 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.

Eligible persons can also schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine at the 4th Medical Group clinic through a variety of methods to include the 4th MDG app, the 4th MDG Facebook page, the DHA website or by calling the 4th MDG at (919) 722-1802.

Noon
Wake County health officials are reporting a COVID-19 outbreak at Sunnybrook Rehabilitation Center located at 25 Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh.

This is the third outbreak at the center. Two other outbreaks happened in January 2021 and April 2020.

11:55 a.m..
North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,765 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday.

COVID hospitalizations throughout the state have increased by 14 to 1,117.

Throughout the state, 36 more people have died from the virus in North Carolina. That brings the death total to 12,619.

The state is reporting a 6.2% positive test rate.

NCDHHS data shows 48.7% of North Carolina adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 39.2% of the adult population in the state is fully vaccinated.

11:43 a.m.
Duke Health plans to transition its Wheels Fun Park location to offer appointments or walk-ins daily. Starting next Monday, the vaccine clinic at Wheels Fun Park will offer walk-in clinic hours (1 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday-Friday), in addition to appointments for those who prefer a set time.

More information can be found here.

9:37 a.m.
The Halifax County Health Department will offer first doses of the Pfizer vaccine to anyone 16 years and older by online registration on May 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Halifax Community College, Building 700, at 100 College Drive Weldon.

Please use the Country Club Road entrance to the college campus.

Appointments are preferred however, walk-ups will be accepted.

The Halifax County Health Department, which is at 19 N. Dobbs St., Halifax, will also begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations every Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m, beginning May 6. To schedule an appointment, please call (252) 583-5021.

WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Gov. Roy Cooper will give a COVID-19 update today at 2 p.m. This announcement comes just days before COVID-19 restrictions are set to expire.

Will the governor extend the state's COVID-19 restrictions? Will he lift the mask mandate? Find out by watching his announcement on ABC11 or the ABC11 North Carolina app on your connected device.

At this point, 48 percent of adults in our state are partially vaccinated. That number falls behind the national rate of 54 percent.

Rita McDaniel was hesitant to get her shots, saying she felt she needed more information about the new vaccines.

She eventually decided to get vaccinated. After receiving both doses, she's encouraging her friends to do the same.

North Carolina just saw its lowest daily positive COVID-19 cases since April 6. However, that low total number comes with the highest percentage positive (7.5%) since last week

TUESDAY
3:01 p.m.


The Johnston County Health Department has scheduled a Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday or until supplies last at the Johnston County Public Health Department, 517 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. Both first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available.

The COVID-19 vaccine is free to all.

Vaccinations will be administered on an appointment or walk-in basis until capacity has been reached.

2:27 p.m.
The Lee County Government Health Department has opened the scheduled Wednesday COVID-19 Drive-Thru Vaccination Clinic to onsite registrations for first come, first serve.

The clinic will take place at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center from 9 a.m. until noon.

The Civic Center is at 1801 Nash St. in Sanford. All vehicles must enter off Nash Street approaching from the East in the direction of Broadway Road. Vehicles that attempt to enter from the West will be rerouted.

The Health Department will be administering first and second dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. People who need their second-dose vaccine are reminded to bring their vaccination record cards.

You can register by calling (919) 842-5744 or to register in Spanish, call (919) 718-4640 option 8.

12:47 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department reports just two new people for a total of 5,486 positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 109 deaths in the county -- 1.98% COVID-19 related deaths.

12:30 p.m.
The CDC issued updated guidance on wearing masks outdoors Tuesday, with new recommendations that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask unless they are in a crowd of strangers.

The CDC still recommends wearing a mask on for any crowded outdoor events like concerts, parades and sporting events.

12 p.m.
A total of 1,148 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Tuesday. That number is low compared to the 7-day average, but the number of tests completed was also low.

In all, 1,103 are hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

The percent of positive tests is at 7.5 percent.

In North Carolina, 30.5 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated, and 38.8 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.

11:45 a.m.
North Carolina Central University will offer both first and second dose Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines by walk-in or appointment on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

11 a.m.
Merck announced a deal with five makers of generic drugs in India to produce molnupiravir, an experimental antiviral similar to the COVID-19 medicine remdesivir but in a more convenient pill form.

Late-stage testing of the drug just started in the United States, and it's unclear when the medicine might be used in India or elsewhere. A mid-stage study gave encouraging results, suggesting the drug quickly reduced virus levels when used early after infection.

Remdesivir is widely used for certain hospitalized patients but must be given as an infusion, which limits its use.

Molnupiravir, a pill that Merck is developing with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, has shown wide activity against many types of respiratory viruses, according to Dr. George Painter, an Emory University professor who helped discover it.

"It's my assumption that those generic drug manufacturers who have enormous capacity either have this on hand or will make it quickly," he said.

10 a.m.
The White House says the U.S. will begin sharing its entire stock of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews. As many as 60 million doses are expected to be available for export in the coming months. The move greatly expands on the Biden administration's action last month to share about 4 million doses of the vaccine with Mexico and Canada. The AstraZeneca drug is widely in use around the world but has not yet been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The White House is increasingly assured about the supply of the three vaccines being administered in the U.S.

TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Updated guidance about when you should wear a mask outdoors is expected to be released today.

Sources say the guidance relates specifically to if fully vaccinated people need to wear masks outdoors. The guidance comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but President Joe Biden is expected to be the one announcing the guidance.

The specific language of the guidance is not known. However, Dr. Anthony Fauci hinted over the weekend that the guidance would include a loosening of restrictions, saying the CDC will be "updating their guidelines of what people who are vaccinated can do and even some who are not vaccinated."

Biden has previously said he hoped outdoor gatherings would be possible by July 4. North Carolina leaders have said they will consider lifting portions of the mask mandate in June.

Meanwhile, Wake County Public Health will resume the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week. Last week the FDA and CDC lifted the pause on use of the vaccine after determining the risk of blood clots was so low that the benefit of the vaccine outweighed it.

Wake County has 7,900 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The first clinics of the single-shot vaccine will happen Thursday and Friday at Ting Park in Holly Springs.

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.
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