Two North Carolina residents are the latest winners of the state COVID-19 vaccine lottery.
Every other week, the state selects two vaccinated North Carolinians to win prizes. One person over the age of 18 will win $1 million, and one person between 12 and 17 years old will win a $125,000 post-secondary scholarship.
Thursday's winners included Natalie Everett of Pineville, who won the $1 million prize, and 16-year-old high school student Jessica Klima of Greensboro who won the scholarship.
"A big thank you to our winners for getting their shot against COVID-19 to protect themselves and others," NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said during a news conference. "North Carolina is seeing cases, hospitalizations and deaths increasing. Don't wait to vaccinate."
Everett said she got vaccinated after researching the vaccines and learning it was the best way to prevent getting the virus for a second time. Klima said her parents getting the vaccine inspired her to get hers. She plans to study physical therapy in college.
The next drawing is on July 21.
On Wednesday, the state recorded its highest number of new cases in nearly two months.
The 995 new positive cases Wednesday is more than twice as many as were recorded last Wednesday, and four times higher than two weeks ago.
The percentage of tests coming back positive rose to 5.5 percent, which is higher than the percent positive goal NCDHHS set back at the start of the pandemic.
WATCH: Should we be concerned about NC's rising percent of positive COVID tests?
State metrics do not explicitly say if those new positive cases were among vaccinated or unvaccinated people, but nationally the director of the National Institutes of Health said unvaccinated people make up 99 percent of the new COVID-19 cases.
"If you're on the fence about whether vaccination was going to help you, listen to those numbers. Unvaccinated people going into hospital and dying. Vaccinated people essentially not," NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects to see COVID-19 hospital admissions to increase over the next four weeks. National COVID-19 hospitalizations had been declining for months.
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In addition, the state continues to urge citizens to get vaccinated. As part of that push, the two winners in last week's COVID-19 vaccine lottery drawing will be announced today.