CDC tells North Carolina health officials that severe weather could cause COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays

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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11 p.m.
Despite the threat of delayed shipments of Pfizer across the state, Wake County health officials say they are set to administer more than 1,400 shots at PNC Arena on Wednesday.

10 p.m.
Some Wake County high school students are returning to the classroom for the first time in nearly a year. ABC11's Josh Chapin spoke to one family who's ecstatic as Wednesday morning approaches. The Wake County school board acknowledges that there will be hiccups but with more students back inside the classroom, they will be able to be able to assess the environment.

3:45 p.m.
Due to severe weather, the CDC has notified NCDHHS that there may be delays in some shipments and deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine this week, according to a statement from an NCDHHS spokesperson. NCDHHS said it will continue working with the CDC and vaccine providers to help minimize the potential effects of these delays.

2:30 p.m.
Tuesday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services included 1,988 newly-reported COVID-19 cases. It's the first time we fell below 2,000 since mid-November.

There were a total of 1,958 hospitalizations on Monday.

The daily percent positive rate was 7.4%, a slight decrease from yesterday's 7.7%.

There were 61 deaths added, bringing the state total to 10,562 since the start of the pandemic.

12:05 p.m.
A Nash Correctional Institution offender with existing medical conditions who tested positive for COVID-19 has died at a hospital.

The offender tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 8 and was hospitalized the next day. His condition worsened, and he died Feb. 15.

The offender was in his early 70s and had underlying health conditions.

"We continue to work hard to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offender population is our top priority," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons.

12:04 p.m.
Sampson County reports 30 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 6,604 since the start of the pandemic.

The death toll remains at 86.

12 p.m.
According to the latest report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, cases, COVID-19 hospital admissions, and test positivity continue to decline nationally.

The U.S. continues to see a five-week, downward trend in new cases resulting in a 64% decline in the 7-day average since the peak on January 11, 2021 (from 249,048 to 89,747).

The number of confirmed new COVID-19 patient admissions has decreased 22% since the previous week (7-day daily average from 9,900 to 7,740).

The number of deaths is up slightly (+0.3%), in part due to Ohio in recent days reporting 4,275 previously unreported deaths dating back to Oct 2020.

Overall, 54,260,570 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States.

In total, 12% of the population (39.1 million people) has received 1 or more doses and 4% of the population (14.6 million people) has received 2 doses.

11:20 a.m.
The WCPSS Board of Education is meeting today to discuss updates on the current and future work to support students who are not attending regularly, and for students who are experiencing academic difficulties as the district prepares for a return to in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

9:26 a.m.
The city of Rocky Mount's Tar River Transit service is offering free rides to those with scheduled appointments to "drive-up" vaccination sites.

Transportation is available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday to vaccination sites in Nash and Edgecombe counties. Residents who are interested in transportation to and from vaccination sites may call Tar River Transit at (252) 972-1174, (252) 972-1514, (252) 972-1515, (252) 972-1516 or (252) 972-1517.

All appointments may be scheduled the day before the trip. Healthcare facilities may also call and schedule transportation on behalf of their patients. Free rides will be available until at least June 30.

TODAY'S HEADLINES
There is a push to ramp up vaccinations in the Latinx community. Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 but account for about 2% of those getting vaccinated in North Carolina. The Wake County Health Department is partnering with El Centro Hispano to turn that around by holding clinics focusing on the Latinx community.

Today, state house leaders are scheduled to present a plan to provide weeks of additional in-classroom learning recovery for North Carolina students who may have fallen behind during virtual learning. This would take place over the summer.

MONDAY
5 p.m.
The makers of COVID-19 vaccines are figuring out how to tweak their recipes against worrisome virus mutations - and regulators are looking to flu as a blueprint if and when the shots need an update.

"It's not really something you can sort of flip a switch, do overnight," cautioned Richard Webby, who directs a World Health Organization flu center from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Viruses mutate constantly and it takes just the right combination of particular mutations to escape vaccination. But studies are raising concern that first-generation COVID-19 vaccines don't work as well against a mutant that first emerged in South Africa as they do against other versions circulating around the world.

The good news: Many of the new COVID-19 vaccines are made with new, flexible technology that's easy to upgrade. What's harder: Deciding if the virus has mutated enough that it's time to modify vaccines - and what changes to make.

3:40 p.m.
The Lee County Government Health Department confirmed a total of 5,212 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 162 cases since the department's last report on Feb.8.

The county reports 66 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

The Health Department continues to register people for the COVID-19 vaccine eligible under Groups 1 and 2 of the NCDHHS vaccine rollout plan. This includes healthcare workers that have direct contact with patients, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, and adults aged 65 and older. The department is also registering K-12 educators and childcare workers who are eligible to receive the vaccine beginning February 24th. All others in Group 3 (frontline essential workers) must wait until March 10 to register.

The Health Department has opened a temporary call center for vaccine registrations in Lee County. Individuals currently eligible to register may call (919) 352-3360 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. To register and speak with a staff member in Spanish, please call (919) 718-4640 and select option 8. Eligible individuals may also choose to complete a registration form online. Health Department staff will contact those who register within five to seven business days to complete registration and provide information for the next available vaccine clinic.

The county will hold a second dose COVID-19 drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford on Tuesday.

12 p.m.
Monday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services included 2,458 newly-reported COVID-19 cases; a 20% decrease from last week.

There were a total of 1,941 hospitalizations. That's 48 less than Sunday.

The daily percent positive rate was 7.7% and 10 more deaths were reported, totaling 10,501 since the start of the pandemic.

11:35 a.m.
Wake County Public Health is set to receive 7,825 doses from the state for the week of Feb. 15. These are all 1st doses.

Appointments will be offered at the following locations:
3,500 to Wake County Public Health Center & Wake County Commons Building (our two indoor locations)
1,000 to Strike Teams
Group 1: 200 to Long Term Care
Group 2: 1,000 to Equity Community Outreach (historically-marginalized focused events in partnerships with black, Hispanic, church, and other organizations)
3,325 to PNC Arena community partner outdoor drive-thru

In addition, WakeMed is going to partner and bring another 975 of its doses to give out at PNC. Total appointments at PNC for Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of this week will be 4,300.

9:40 a.m.
Cumberland County announced a first dose COVID-19 vaccine clinic for today.

The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Crown Complex.

It is a drive-thru clinic and no appointments are needed.

Vaccines will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis for those who meet eligibility requirements.

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Some Wake County students are returning to class for in-person learning today.

Year-round students will go back to the classroom Monday, while other students will have to wait until Wednesday.

Classroom layouts will look much different than before the COVID-19 pandemic. They will be spaced out and socially distant, while hallways will have arrows telling students which way they should be walking.

Signage is also up throughout the schools reminding students to keep their masks on at all times. Masks can only be removed during designated breaks and during lunch.

All students will also be required to go through a health screening when they arrive at the school.

Elsewhere in the United States, researchers have identified a batch of new COVID-19 mutations. Up to this point, researchers have been studying variants of the virus first identified in other countries--such as South Africa and the United Kingdom.

But now, they say there is a US mutation that affects the protein that helps the virus attach to cells.

It's unclear yet if this mutation changes how contagious or how dangerous the virus is.

Meanwhile, North Carolina continues its push to make COVID-19 testing available to those who need it.

Four new locations are opening this week in Wake County: Anderson Point Park, Halifax Community Park, and South Park (Fuquay-Varina). There will also be a testing site at Aversboro Baptist Church in Garner from Thursday through Saturday. More on COVID-19 testing here.
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