Wake County school board votes to continue mask mandate

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

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Dr. Alexa Mieses Malchuck answers your questions about the latest news in the COVID-19 pandemic.



8:55 p.m.
During its Tuesday meeting, the Wake County School Board voted to continue its mask and face covering mandate.

'Consider children of color:' Black parents in Wake County push to keep school mask mandates

2 p.m.
The Dept. of Homeland Security this week issued an intel notice warning that extremists, including white supremacists, anarchists and other would-be domestic terrorists are likely to "threaten violence or plot against healthcare personnel, facilities, and public officials in response to renewed and expanding COVID-19 mitigation measures."

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The Dept of Homeland Security this week issued an intel notice warning that extremists are likely to "threaten violence or plot against healthcare personnel, facilities, and public officials."



The confidential document, distributed Monday to law enforcement and government agencies around the country, noted that anti-vax messaging and conspiracy disinfo is likely to increase as vaccines continue gaining formal government approval and are subsequently mandated for more and more work places and entertainment locations. The document was obtained by ABC News.

12:40 p.m.
2,703 new daily COVID-19 cases were reported on Tuesday.

The percent of positive tests in the state is at 9.4%.

2,705 people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

93 more COVID-19 deaths were reported on Tuesday.

10:15 a.m.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that a new report shows that COVID-19 vaccinations may have helped prevent roughly 11,000 new COVID-19 infections and 1,600 deaths among seniors in North Carolina during the first five months of 2021.

The study, which was conducted by researchers with HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), also found that nationally, vaccinations were linked to a reduction of approximately 265,000 COVID-19 infections, 107,000 hospitalizations, and 39,000 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries between January and May 2021.

8:45 a.m.
New data shows how many people in North Carolina have had COVID-19 multiple times.

From March 2020 through September 20, 2021, a total of 10,812 people in the state had confirmed cases of COVID-19 multiple times (accounting for .8% of all cases). The researchers only counted positive COVID-19 tests at least 90 days prior, in an attempt to avoid multiple positive tests through the same infection.

That 90 day interval is part of the CDC definition of a reinfection case of COVID-19.

NCDHHS said the number of reinfection cases has dramatically increased since the arrival of the Delta variant. The number of reinfection cases per week approximately doubled around July and then tripled around August.

The numbers also show that 94 people died after contracted a reinfected COVID-19 case. That's approximately .6% of the state's total COVID-19 deaths.

To take a look at the data yourself, click here.

7:10 a.m.
Johnson & Johnson asked the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to allow extra shots of its COVID-19 vaccine as the U.S. government moves toward expanding its booster campaign to millions more vaccinated Americans.

J&J said it filed a request with the FDA to authorize boosters for people who previously received the company's one-shot vaccine. While company said it submitted data on several different booster intervals, ranging from two to six months, it did not formally recommend one to regulators.

TUESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Students and staff in Harnett County can attend indoor classes today without wearing a face mask.

The Harnett County School Board voted Monday night to make mask wearing optional, despite the objections of local health advisors.

In addition, students exposed to a positive COVID-19 case, but have not yet tested positive for the virus, only have to quarantine for 7 days--instead of the previous 10 days that health officials recommend.

According to our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer, the district superintendent Aaron Fleming warned the board that the 4-1 vote could have some unintended consequences. For example, he said some schools may have to turn to remote learning at times if COVID-19 cases and quarantines rise, as they have in other districts across the country that have made face masks optional.
In Wake County, the school board is scheduled to make its mandatory monthly vote on its COVID-19 masking policy.

Parents voiced their opinions over Zoom last night when the board met.

The district will also release a first look at its school reassignment plan for next year. The plan includes base attendance areas for three new schools: Apex Friendship Elementary School, Barton Pond Elementary School and Herbert Akins Road Middle School.

Parents will be allowed to review comment on the reassignment plan before the board votes on it in November.

And in Durham, Broadway makes a return to DPAC on Tuesday night.

The Band's Visit kicks off a six-day run at the theater. It's the first Broadway show there since the pandemic started back in 2020.

DPAC is requiring proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for all indoor events.

MONDAY
9:05 p.m.
At a Monday meeting, the Harnett County school board voted to keep masks optional.

5:50 p.m.
Students attending Sunnyside Elementary School in Cumberland County will temporarily transition to virtual remote learning from October 5-15 because of multiple positive COVID-19 cases.

The students are scheduled to resume face-to-face learning on October 18, the district said Monday.

Families will be contacted by Cumberland County Schools' Office of Health Services if it is believed their child was exposed.

District officials have asked parents to monitor their child's health and their families for COVID-19 symptoms.

2:55 p.m.
Although pediatric COVID-19 infection rates remain at an "exceptionally high" level, this week, the U.S. finally reported its first notable decline in new reported cases and hospitalization figures among children, as the delta surge continues to abate across the deep South.

Last week, the U.S. reported more than 173,000 child COVID-19 cases, marking the first week with fewer than 200,000 new cases reported since mid-August, according to a newly released weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA).

Since the onset of the pandemic, nearly 5.9 million children have tested positive for the virus, and in the last five weeks alone, the U.S. has reported more than 1.1 million pediatric cases.

1 p.m.

Twelve people incarcerated in the Orange County Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, the county announced.

"Unfortunately, we are hearing from jail professionals across the state that numbers of COVID cases within detention facilities are surging. Despite our best efforts, we are also experiencing this increase in our facility," Chief Deputy Jamison Sykes said in a statement.

No one who tests positive is in a cell with anyone negative, the county said.

Officials said the outbreak "appears to stem from an individual who had no symptoms and a negative rapid test when he entered the facility."

12:15 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released COVID-19 numbers for the weekend.

The state reported 4,738 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, 3,728 on Sunday and 2,219 on Monday.

The average of new daily cases has been declining since a spike in mid-September.

The daily percent of positive tests is at 8.4%.

2,690 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.

There are currently 732 adult ICU COVID-19 patients.

209 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted into hospitals in the last 24 hours.

12 p.m.
The US is "turning the corner" on its current Covid-19 surge but vaccination remains key to ensuring cases continue trending downward ahead of the holiday season, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.

The US is averaging around 107,000 new infections every day, according to Johns Hopkins University -- down from more than 150,000 just last month. Rates of hospitalizations and deaths have also been on the decline.

But Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC's "This Week" that over nearly 20 months of the pandemic, Covid surges have subsided only to come back again.

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES

More local businesses will start requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

DPAC said it will start requiring proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test in the last 72 hours.

That requirement will be enforced for all events at DPAC, including Broadway performances, concerts, comedy shows and special events.

The Carolina Theatre in Durham is also starting to require proof of vaccination. The theatre said anyone attending needs to bring their physical vaccine card--pictures of the card will not count.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen is set to be recognized for her role in guiding the state through the pandemic.

Wake Education Partnership will present Cohen with the Vernon Malone Friend of Education award at its annual Stars of Education Gala, which is scheduled to happen Monday night.

The Vernon Malone Friend of Education award has been awarded every year since 1990 to someone who shows exceptional commitment to public education.

FRIDAY
12:20 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 4,963 new cases Friday, the fifth day in a row that the state reported fewer than five thousand cases.
The state also reported fewer than 3,000 hospitalizations for the second day in a row as the percentage of positive tests remained below 8% at 7.9%.

North Carolina passed 16,600 COVID-19 deaths--with 16,605 deaths as of Friday.

6:30 a.m.
An experimental COVID-19 pill reduced hospitalizations and deaths by half in people recently infected with the coronavirus, according to U.S. drug maker Merk.

If cleared, Merck's drug would be the first pill shown to treat COVID-19, a potentially major advance in efforts to fight the pandemic. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the U.S. require an IV or injection.

The company said it would soon ask health officials in the U.S. and around the world to authorize use of the pill.

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