RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite an increase in the percentage of cases attributed to vaccinated North Carolinians, data shows the vaccines are still highly protective against hospitalization and death.
In the week ending October 2, 21% of COVID-19 cases were in people who had already been vaccinated. However, experts expect this number to increase as more people get vaccinated because the pool of unvaccinated people will be smaller. As of Thursday, 70% of North Carolina adults are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Overall, unvaccinated North Carolinians are more than four times more likely to get sick from COVID-19 than vaccinated North Carolinians and 19.86 times more likely to die from an infection, after adjusting for age.
Since January 1, 9% of COVID-19 cases and 6% of deaths have been in vaccinated individuals.
Just 1.5% of the more than 5 million vaccinated North Carolinians have gotten sick with COVID-19 since January 1. About 0.01%, or 1 in 10,000, vaccinated North Carolinians have died from COVID-19.
On average, just over 14% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 were previously vaccinated. Less than 10% of post-vaccination hospitalizations end up in the ICU.
COVID-19 metrics continue to trend in the right direction.
The daily percent positive rate Thursday dropped to 5.9%. That's the lowest since July 17.
However, the number of new positive cases remained mostly steady at 3,761.
Hospitalizations dropped to 2,208, and another 80 people died from the virus.
To look at the state's numbers yourself, click here.
Haywood County is rewarding its teachers for sticking it out through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district announced all school employees would receive up to $3,000 in bonuses.
The money is set to start arriving in paychecks in monthly installments starting in November.
The school district said the money for the bonuses came from federal COVID-19 funding. The money will hopefully help the school district retain the employees.
What will Halloween look like this year?
The government's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said families can feel safe trick-or-treating outdoors this year for Halloween as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. decline, especially for those who are vaccinated.
Last year, trick-or-treating was strongly discouraged. Durham went so far as to ask people not to do it at all.
We're expected to get an update from Durham Mayor Steve Schewel on Thursday morning. The mayor will release the city's guidance for how to safely celebrate Halloween this year.
That announcement is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Check back here for updates.
COVID-19 was the leading of death among people ages 35 to 54 -- and the second-leading cause overall -- in September, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Peterson Center on Healthcare.
The research also estimates that since June more than 90,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 could have been prevented with vaccines, and more than half of those occurred last month.
In January, COVID-19 was the nation's No. 1 cause of death, the analysis found. In July, before the delta surge, COVID-19 briefly dropped to eighth.
The town of Garner will not have its traditional Christmas parade this year, it announced this week.
The town cited staffing challenges and ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19.
The annual tree lighting, typically held during Light Up Main, will be combined with the Garner Night Market on Friday, Nov. 26.
Specific details will be announced later, the town said.
The town said it will not have its traditional Christmas Parade this year "due to staffing shortages and other logistical issues that will make it uncertain whether a parade could be planned and managed safely while meeting community expectations."
However, the town is planning other family-friendly holiday activities that will be held in Downtown Garner on Dec. 4.
The University of North Carolina announced COVID-19 protocols for winter sports events - including men's and women's basketball, gymnastics, swimming & diving and wrestling.
Masks must be worn over the nose and mouth of everyone in attendance for all indoor events, except when actively eating and drinking.
Full capacity in stadiums will be allowed but the first two rows of seats behind the benches at Carmichael Arena will be blocked for Women's Basketball games as a safety buffer because of the tight space between the benches and fans, the school said.
Vaccinations are strongly encouraged but not currently required to attend events.
Carolina students and staff must attest they are vaccinated or be tested regularly.
Governor Roy Cooper visited the vaccine clinic at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, a Novant Health affiliate.
The hospital is administering additional Pfizer shots to people who are over the age of 65, immunocompromised or work in high-risk environments.
"Vaccines are safe, effective and free, and each shot gets us closer to beating this pandemic," said Governor Cooper. "It's great to see people get their additional Pfizer shot for an extra layer of protection and we're grateful for the health care workers at Novant Health for making this clinic possible."
The raw number of COVID-19 cases reported today by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services rose by more than 1,000, but the when comparing week-to-week numbers still shows a continuing decline.
Wednesday saw 3,239 more COVID-19 cases added to the state's tally. But a week ago that number was 3,598, and the week before that it was 4,789, and the week before that was 6,288.
Day to day increases in the number of cases can easily be skewed by how many tests were completed and reported.
The daily percent positive rate decreased to 7% with Wednesday's metrics. That number is down from over 9% last week.
To look at the state's numbers yourself, click here.
With many Americans who got Pfizer vaccinations already rolling up their sleeves for a booster shot, millions of others who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine wait anxiously to learn when it's their turn.
Federal regulators begin tackling that question this week.
On Thursday and Friday, the Food and Drug Administration convenes its independent advisers for the first stage in the process of deciding whether extra doses of the two vaccines should be dispensed and, if so, who should get them and when. The final go-ahead is not expected for at least another week.
After the FDA advisers give their recommendation, the agency itself will make a decision on whether to authorize boosters. Then next week, a panel convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will offer more specifics on who should get them. Its decision is subject to approval by the CDC director.
The Boeing Co. has told employees they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 or possibly be fired.
The Seattle Times reports the deadline for workers at the aerospace giant is Dec. 8.
"Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment," states a Boeing internal presentation from Tuesday viewed by the newspaper. "Employees who are unable to meet these requirements ... may be released from the company."
Employees can request exemptions "due to a disability or sincerely held religious belief." Any employee granted such an exemption will have to "undergo frequent testing for COVID-19" and be ready to "present a negative test result upon request."
The U.S. is moving forward to lift restrictions for foreign travelers coming into the country over land-border crossings as long as they have proof of COVID-19 vaccination, according to multiple senior Biden administration officials.
The news follows a decision about two months ago from Canadian authorities to allow vaccinated American travelers to enter by land. It also follows the announcement last month of a vaccine requirement for foreign air travelers coming into the U.S.
WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Health experts continue to emphasize that health is not just a result of one person's individual decisions.
While washing your hands and wearing a mask can drastically reduce your personal risk of getting sick, everyone's personal health decisions have an impact on their friends and neighbors' health.
That's why they encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. Vaccines will help protect you from illnesses, plus they will help protect those around you. Improving your own defenses against viruses can help reduce the spread of those viruses and thus potentially prevent someone else from getting sick--especially someone who may not be able to get vaccinated.
With that in mind, Wake County is opening its first walk in flu shot clinic at the Public Health Center on Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh.
The flu shot clinic is open from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday. If you can't make it, remember that your local pharmacy, doctor's office and health department should all have vaccine doses available.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time.
"While limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines. If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider."
Unvaccinated North Carolinians nearly 20x more likely to die from COVID-19