RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
Q&A: How to safely go to big events like the NC State Fair
U.S. health advisers endorsed a booster of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Friday, citing growing worry that Americans who got the single-dose shot aren't as protected as those given two-dose brands.
Advisers to the Food and Drug Administration weighed J&J's proposal for a flexible booster schedule. The company said the extra dose adds important protection as early as two months after initial vaccination -- but that it might work better if people wait until six months later.
The FDA's advisory panel voted unanimously that a booster should be offered without setting a firm time. The advisers cited growing evidence that J&J recipients are more vulnerable to infection than people who got vaccines from competitors Pfizer or Moderna- and that most got their single dose many months ago.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising states to order Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine doses for children ages 5 to 11 ahead of a vote on its authorization.
An independent Food and Drug Administration advisory panel is scheduled to discuss the vaccine on Oct. 26, and a vote is expected soon after. In planning documents posted by the CDC, the agency is advising states to order their doses in advance of the meeting, with preorders starting Oct. 20.
This is meant to "ensure that vaccine can be placed in many locations nationwide, making it easier for children to get vaccinated" and "allow for a manageable and equitable launch," the CDC said.
A decision from the CDC on recommending the vaccine is not likely until early November; the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3.
FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Yesterday, a CDC panel endorsed booster shots for the Moderna COVID-19. Today, the panel will look into booster shots for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
J&J is the one only one shot version of the vaccine currently authorized in the United States. The company suggests a second shot between two and six months after the initial shot.
The CDC panel will also hear arguments today from the National Institutes of Health on the effectiveness and safety of mixing and matching the different companies' vaccines.
In North Carolina, 70 percent of the adult population is at least partially vaccinated (65% is fully vaccinated). The COVID-19 metrics remain significant but continue to show improvements.
With the situation seeming to improve, things are getting back to normal--including one of the top religions in this area: college basketball.
NC State's Primetime with the Pack took place Thursday with fans packed inside Reynolds Coliseum. UNC and Duke will hold their season opening events Friday with fans inside the Dean E. Smith Center and Cameron Indoor for the first time in two years.
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.