RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.
Appointments are no longer required to get a free shot of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wake County. All vaccination locations will allow walk-ins and drive-ins.
Appointments are still encouraged, but no longer necessary.
The locations accepting walk-ins include Wake County Public Health Center, Wake County Northern Regional Center, Wake County Human Services Center at Departure and Green Road Park.
Information about hours can be found here.
UNC Health is going to resume offering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday.
"Our experts have reviewed the data and CDC recommendations to resume Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, and continue to strongly recommend patients receive any one of the COVID-19 vaccines," a spokesperson said.
When scheduling, patients can select from either the J&J or the Pfizer or Moderna.
J&J appointments will be available starting Wednesday at the Friday Center and other UNC Health clinics.
So far, UNC Health says it has has administered more than 375,000 doses of the vaccines.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 1,126 new COVID-19 cases. The state is reporting a 6% positive test rate.
There are currently 1,007 COVID-19 patients being hospitalized in the state.
As of Monday, 49.6% of the adult population in North Carolina is vaccinated with at least one dose.
Sadly, 12,691 people have died since the start of the pandemic.
Thousands of restaurants and bars decimated by COVID-19 have a better chance at survival as the government begins handing out $28.6 billion in grant money to help these businesses stay afloat while they wait for customers to return.
The Small Business Administration is accepting applications for grants from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund as of Monday.
For the program's first three weeks, only applications from restaurants that are majority-owned by women, minorities and veterans will be processed and paid out. The grants, up to $10 million, are aimed at replacing lost revenue at restaurant companies with up to 20 locations.
MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES
More children could soon be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
ABC News reports the Food and Drug Administration could extend its authorization for the Pfizer vaccine to children as young as 12 years old.
That vaccine is currently authorized for anyone 16 and older, but testing has continued on younger Americans. That testing has reportedly found 100 percent efficacy among people 12-15 years old, with no new side effects.
If the FDA agrees with the company's findings, children in that age group could start getting vaccinated later this month.
This comes as health and government officials across the country warn that younger Americans are becoming a larger share of those infected and hospitalized with the virus.
"There is a very sharp increase, it appears, in younger adults... these are largely people who think that their age is protecting them from getting very sick from COVID-19, that is not happening," Cassie Sauer, CEO and president of the Washington State Hospital Association, said during a press conference last week.
That increase is why many health experts are worried about the decreasing demand for the vaccine.
With vaccination rates lagging behind in red states, Republican leaders are starting to step up their efforts to persuade their supporters to get the shot.
"Medicine and science and illness, that should not be political," said Dr. Brad Wenstrup, a Republican congressman from Ohio and a podiatrist who has personally administered coronavirus vaccine shots both as an Army Reserve officer and as an ordinary doctor. "But it was an election year and it really was."
Masks are no longer required outdoors in the Tar Heel state. This is the first time in nearly a year that masks are not required in some public spaces.
Special events like weddings have been on hold during the pandemic. But loosening restrictions are helping some companies make a comeback.
Strict capacity limits and safety concerns made it difficult for couples to plan their special days. The latest move to increase the size of indoor gatherings to 100 people and outdoor gatherings to 200 people is representing a key step towards normalcy.
Elana Walker is a wedding planner in the Triangle who says her average party size is 150 to 200 people.
She says business has picked up the last couple of months and she expects further loosening will only increase confidence.
"For future brides who are considering, 'should I move forward with the plans of my wedding?' I think they're going to feel a lot more confident that based on the way that things have progressed, that by the time their wedding does take place at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, that they'll be able to have the guest count they want," Walker said.
Walker says when planning your wedding, you should make sure to have ample hand sanitizer and masks available for guests. And to check with venues about their rescheduling and cancellation policies.
She adds some people may not feel fully comfortable with new restrictions, encouraging couples to take that into account when arranging seating charts.
Cruise lines are cheering word the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is committed to resuming sailings in the United States by mid-summer and tweaking some of the rules around resuming trips.
A spokeswoman for the Cruise Lines International Association says the group's experts are still reviewing the CDC comments but show progress in discussions to restart cruising.
"It also shows that the voices of community leaders and the wider cruise community are being heard -- and we are very grateful for that," said the industry spokeswoman, Laziza Lambert.
This week, the CDC said in a letter to the group that it will let ships cruise without going through practice trips if 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The agency also promised a quick review of plans for practice voyages - five days instead of 60 - and changes in testing for fully vaccinated people.
The CDC had previously set conditions that the cruise industry said effectively prevented it from sailing to U.S. ports while the Caribbean and parts of Europe were opened to cruising. U.S. cruises have been shut down by the pandemic since March 2020.
Two of Carnival Corp.'s cruise lines have resumed limited sailings in Europe and three plan to launch trips in Britain this summer.
Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room doctor and former Baltimore health commissioner says fully vaccinating about 40% of American adults is a great achievement, but not enough.
"The hardest part is ahead of us," Wen says. "I'm very concerned that we are not going to come anywhere close to reaching herd immunity in 2021."
Dr. Wen believes the combination of better weather and falling case counts will make it harder to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated this summer.
"Those people who are on the fence about getting a vaccine may have less reason to get one now because they don't see coronavirus as an existential crisis anymore," says the visiting professor of health policy at George Washington University in a phone interview with the Associated Press.
Wen is concerned that could lead to a resurgence in cases this fall and winter as weather forces people back indoors and new variants of the disease become more prevalent. She says to reach the unvaccinated, the U.S. needs to make vaccines available in more places -- doctor's offices, workplaces, schools and churches.
U.S. health officials have concluded that anxiety - and not a problem with the coronavirus vaccine - caused fainting, dizziness and other short-term reactions in dozens of people this month.
Health experts say the clusters are an example of a phenomenon that's been chronicled for decades from a variety of different vaccines. Some people get so anxious about getting injections, it spurs physical symptoms.
Many of the 64 people affected either fainted or reported dizziness. Some got nauseous or vomited. A few had racing hearts or chest pain. None got seriously ill.
The report indicated those incidences happened in California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina.
Drug maker Pfizer says it will start sending U.S.-produced COVID-19 vaccines to Canada next week.
It's the first time the U.S. has allowed that company's vaccine exported north. Canada has close commercial ties with the U.S., but it has been getting Pfizer vaccines from Belgium.
U.S. authorities had kept supplies made in the U.S. for domestic use. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says starting next week, Canada will be receiving 2 million doses a week from Pfizer alone.
Vaccinations have ramped up in Canada in recent months. All adults in Quebec will be eligible to make a vaccine appointment starting May 14. In Ontario, Canada's largest province, adults can book an appointment starting May 24.
An inflated number of COVID-19 cases were reported by NCDHHS on Friday due to tests from as far back as Jan. 6 submitted to the state by Catawba Valley Medical Center that had not been previously reported.
331 of the 2,231 COVID-19 cases reported for April 30 were not actually new cases, the state said.
1,101 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.
The percent of positive tests is currently at 4.8 percent.
40.5 percent of adults in North Carolina are fully vaccinated.
12,651 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.
Beginning Monday, the Durham County Department of Public Health will open its vaccination clinic for walk-in appointments.
Walk-in hours will be Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 9 to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays 9 to 6 p.m.
Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available but the choice of vaccine will depend on supply.
Pfizer will be used for all people under age 18.
FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Part of North Carolina's mask mandate will come to an end Friday afternoon.
Starting at 5 p.m., masks will not be required outdoors in the Tar Heel state. This will be the first time in nearly a year that masks will not be required in some public spaces.
Gov. Roy Cooper said he was relaxing the restrictions because of the continued improvement to COVID-19 metrics and the increase in the number of adults in the state who have gotten vaccinated.
However, masks will still be required indoors.
Cooper said the indoor mask mandate would remain in place for a while longer. Before he removes that restriction, Cooper said he would like to see two-thirds of vaccine eligible North Carolinians get inoculated against the virus.
Although the outdoor mask mandate expires Friday, remember that the executive order is a minimum requirement. So individual businesses could still opt to be more strict about where customers are required to wear masks.
Some Raleigh businesses told ABC11 they planned to still require customers to wear masks while on their outdoor patios.
Also starting Friday, some high school athletes will no longer be required to wear face masks while playing their sports.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is dropping the mask requirement during outdoor activities and competitions.
Fans at outdoor games are still encouraged, although not required, to wear a mask.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.:
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.
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.
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.
Halifax County reports 11 new cases for a total of 5,497 total positive COVID 19 cases. There have been 108 deaths countywide.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.