Duke experts talk about where we go next in fight against COVID-19

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

3:29 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department, NCCU and Radeas Labs have partnered to provide COVID-19 testing events throughout the county on the following dates:

  • Thursday, at Hattie P. Staton Senior Center - 1403 Church St., Scotland Neck from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Friday, at Thomas Shield Community Center - 401 S. Beech St., Hobgood from 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Saturday, at Greater Joy North Church -- 1711 E 10th St., Suite 13, Roanoke Rapids from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Feb. 12 at Ivory Hill Baptist Church - 4505 Medoc Mountain Road, Enfield from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.


The mass COVID-19 testing event at the Roanoke Rapids Theatre, 500 Carolina Crossroads Parkway in Roanoke Rapids, is ongoing. This event will run weekly, Monday-Friday through Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily.

At each of the events, no registration or appointment is required. There are no out-of-pocket costs. Insurance is accepted but not required.

2:57 p.m.
Because of testing-supply issues, Cape Fear Valley Health will close its drive-through COVID-19 testing site at Cape Fear Valley Health Pavilion North this week.

The site, which is located at 6387 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, has been open Tuesdays through Fridays since Oct. 21. The vaccination clinic at the same location will remain open.

Vice President of Pharmacy and Cancer Centers Christopher Tart said the testing site had been seeing 200 to 300 patients per day for the past several weeks.

"We are experiencing a lack of supply availability," Tart said. "We will reevaluate at the end of this week to determine if we can open up the testing site next week."

Other outpatient testing locations in the health system, such as primary care clinics and Emergency Departments, are only offering COVID-19 testing to patients who are symptomatic. Patients who would like a COVID-19 test for travel, return to school, or possible exposure will not be tested at these locations.

2:15 p.m.
Wake County Public Health is expanding locations offering free N95 masks to include the Western Health and Human Services Center in Cary and Wake County Human Services Center (Departure Drive) in Raleigh.

In addition to these two new sites, the two sites that ran out last week - Public Health Center (Sunnybrook Road) and the Southern Regional Center in Fuquay Varina - now have a new supply for the public.

The Wake County Health and Human Services building on Swinburne/Kidd Road will no longer be a distribution site.

Wake County Public Health will distribute masks at the following locations Monday through Friday while supplies last:

  • Wake County Western Health & Human Services Center, 111 James Jackson Ave., Cary, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Wake County Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest, 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
  • Wake County Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon, 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
  • Wake County Southern Regional Center, 130 N. Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina, 8:30 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
  • Wake County Human Services Center (vaccine clinic location), 5809 Departure Drive, Raleigh, 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Residents will need to enter the building and pick them up at the information desks at each location. Masks will also be distributed at testing sites and vaccination clinics for those who have an appointment for those services.

There is a limit of one mask per household member.

12:40 p.m.
NC Department of Health and Human Services reports the state set yet another daily percent positive rate record.

Monday's metrics put that positivity rate at 37.8%. The new metrics also included more than 18,000 new positive cases.

Hospitalizations also went up again, now at 4,896.

Click here to look at the numbers yourself.

12:30 p.m.
We're all hoping and waiting for this pandemic to end, and some experts agree we could be getting closer.

According to experts at Duke University, the big question is, where do we go from here?

Ultimately, they say that depends on two things: what the virus does and what humans do.

They say at this point, people need to continue to get vaccinated, wear masks and make changes like canceling travel or isolating during outbreaks of surges.

Experts add we need to move quickly because there is always a potential for a new variant that could be more dangerous than omicron. But if we remain vigilant we could get to an endemic phase-meaning COVID-19 would be treated similar to viruses like the flu.

"I think we are moving in the right direction but we need lay out all of the issues that need to be addressed and make sure we are on vaccine development and vaccine distribution systems and the actual administration system and looking at this problem in a creative way," said Dr. Jonathan Quick, Duke Global Health Institute.

Experts also agree public health officials need to be more clear explaining that this virus and the science are continuing to change and evolve so information and guidance will do the same.

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES

Some COVID-19 testing centers are delaying their openings due to the threat of slick spots on some roads.

All five Wake County testing sites will delay their openings until 10 a.m. Monday.

Those sites are expected to be quite busy Monday due to the delayed opening and the many appointments missed since Thursday due to the threat of weather. Officials said anyone who missed their appointment because of the weather the last few days can show up to get tested today.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services testing sites in Wake County, which are operated b Mako Medical will all open at their normal time. That means the sites at PNC Arena, Mudcat Stadium, WakeMed Soccer Complex and Highland Baptist Church are open from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. and the Word of God location is open from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Those sites do not require appointments, but you do need to register before you show up.

Click here for full details and registration links for all testing centers in Wake County.

Durham County's COVID-19 testing sites at Durham County Memorial Stadium, El Centro Hispano and Wheels Fun Park all open Monday at 10:30 a.m. The vaccine clinic at Durham County Public Health is also not opening until 10:30 a.m.

Wayne County is set to reopen its testing facility Monday after running out of tests last week. The county health department said it received a shipment of 200 tests and will administer them starting Monday on a first-come, first-served basis.

FRIDAY
5:20 p.m.
Because of weather-related closures at Wake County facilities, the House Wake! COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program will extend the application deadline until 5 p.m. on Monday. This new deadline will allow anyone who was unable to submit their application by Friday's deadline additional time to do so.

"Since we closed our doors today as a precaution against the snow and ice, some people who may have wanted to submit their applications by today's deadline may not have had the opportunity to," said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. "We want to give them every chance possible to apply for the help they need to avoid eviction and keep their lights and heat on."

Wake County and the City of Raleigh announced earlier this month that the House Wake! program would end on Jan. 21 to ensure any approved application after the deadline would receive assistance through April 2022.

12:30 p.m.
COVID-19 hospitalizations went up again Friday.

NC Department of Health and Human Services reports 4,867 people are currently in hospitals being treated for the virus. That number is up from 4,741 yesterday.

The daily positivity rate also went up from 33.3% to 34.3%, with another 35,000 positive cases reported.
The state also confirmed 85 more people died from the virus, increasing the statewide death toll to 20,193.

11 a.m.
North Carolina requested federal assistance to help alleviate strained hospital capacity in the Charlotte area.

The highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 has continued to rage through North Carolina and the United States.

With cases and hospitalizations rising, capacity is running out and staff is becoming exhausted. That is why the NC Department of Health and Human Services joined Atrium Health to request assistance from FEMA.

"We continue to monitor hospital capacity and staffing needs and have requested resources, including additional nurses from FEMA," Governor Roy Cooper said. "We appreciate previous federal support and will keep working to make sure that people get the medical care they need."

"The vast majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated," NC Health Secretary Kody Kinsley said. "While we will continue to pull every lever we can to safeguard hospital care, each North Carolinian can do their part by staying up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and wearing a well-fitting mask when around other people as we weather this surge."

A total of 4,741 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 Thursday, and that number is expected to grow in the coming weeks.
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