RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
Nearly 400 Wake County children received their COVID-19 vaccine on the first day the Wake County Health Department began offering the shot to kids ages 5-11.
"I was calm and focused," said third grader Lamont Harris.
"It has like a little sting but that was it," said fourth grader Benjamin Cebllos.
"I've been like really excited to get this shot," said sixth grader Aaron Zhen.
Their parents were equally thrilled.
"It means everything," said parent Tameika Harris. "We're definitely glad that it's finally here and he will be getting another vaccination as well."
"Our kids need it," added parent Carlota Beras.
More than 2,800 appointments are scheduled over the next month in the county, officials said.
County officials said there are thousands of appointments still available. The shots are free.
After eight consecutive weeks of declines, last week, the U.S. saw an uptick in its weekly number of pediatric cases. Prior to that slight increase, infections among children had been steadily dropping since the pandemic peak of 252,000 child cases, recorded over the span of a week in early September.
Last week, the U.S. reported approximately 107,000 child COVID-19 cases, up from about 101,000 new cases last week, according to a weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children's Hospital Association (CHA). COVID-19 cases among children remain "extremely high," the organizations wrote, and for the thirteenth week in a row, pediatric cases stood above 100,000.
Last week, children still accounted for about a quarter (24%) of reported weekly COVID-19 cases. For context, children, under age 18, make up 22.2% of the U.S. population. Regionally, the Midwest continues to see the highest number of pediatric cases, as the area experiences the beginnings of a viral resurgence.
NCDHHS released the state's COVID-19 numbers from the weekend.
2,025 new COVID cases were reported on Saturday, 1,497 on Sunday and 1,103 on Monday.
1,040 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.
The state's daily percent of positive tests is at 5.1 percent.
There are 313 adult ICU COVID-19 patients.
59 percent of the total population of North Carolina is vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Monday, 8,342 kids ages 5 to 11 had been vaccinated with one dose.
Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment can lower the risk of developing COVID-19 by nearly 82% for up to eight months, according to a company press release.
Regeneron's monoclonal antibody treatment is already FDA authorized as a way to prevent COVID-19 among people who have recently been exposed and are considered "high risk" for more serious illness. This new data shows that when given as preventative measure, protection lasts longer than we previously knew - dramatically reducing the risk of infection for up to eight months.
Regeneron and the FDA say that vaccination is the best way to prevent COVID-19 infection and serious illness. However, Regeneron's antibody treatment can be a good option for people who are immune compromised or haven't mounted an adequate immune response through vaccination.
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host clinics to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to kids - and information to parents on the benefits of the shots - as the White House looks to speedily provide vaccines to those ages 5 to 11.
First lady Jill Biden and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy are set to visit the Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, Virginia, on Monday to launch a nationwide campaign to promote child vaccinations. The school was the first to administer the polio vaccine in 1954.
MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Children as young as 5 start getting COVID-19 vaccines Monday through the Wake County health department.
Appointments are available at all five public health clinics in Wake County. All vaccinations are free and do not require insurance.
The authorized Pfizer vaccine for children 5-11 is administered through a smaller needle and it is smaller than the adult dose.
To make an appointment with Wake County Public Health, click here.
Appointments are also available at other healthcare providers and pharmacies throughout the county and across the state.
NC Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen will lead a virtual town hall Tuesday night from 6:30 - 7:30. She'll be taking questions about vaccines and any other COVID-19 topics.
The event will be streamed lived on the NC Department of Health and Human Services social media accounts.
The U.S. reopened borders to vaccinated travelers on Monday after 20 months of being closed to many countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and most of Europe.
In January, as the vaccine was distributed on both sides of the Atlantic, the ban was kept in place, with the Biden administration stating concerns about the delta variant.
On Oct. 20, the Biden administration announced it was lifting the ban on vaccinated travelers.
The ban, which only applies to vaccinated travelers, still excludes many countries where the vaccine is not yet easily available or recognized by the U.S.
The worldwide number of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 surpassed 250 million on Monday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The United States, India and Brazil account for about a third of the recorded cases, Johns Hopkins data shows.
The grim milestone came as some countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia, Ukraine and Greece, grapple with record levels of newly reported cases.
The pandemic began less than two years ago after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases Friday as the trend of new cases continues to decline since early October. As of Thursday, 4% of tests are positive.
Currently, 1,144 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, a rate that continues to drop quickly. Over the last 24 hours, there have been 340 adult ICU COVID-19 patients statewide, less than half the number in the ICU a month ago.
A course of pills developed by Pfizer can slash the risk of being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 by 89% if taken within three days of developing symptoms, according to results released Friday by the pharmaceutical company.
In a study of more than 1,200 COVID-19 patients with a higher risk of developing serious illness, people who took Pfizer's pills were far less likely to end up in the hospital compared to people who got placebo pills.
None of the people who got the real pills died, but 10 people who got placebo pills died, according to results summarized in a Pfizer press release.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in prepared remarks that the data suggest the pill-based treatment, if authorized, could "eliminate up to nine out of ten hospitalizations."
The U.S. is at an "inflection point" heading into the colder winter months, the PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said this week in its latest COVID-19 forecast.
Throughout the fall, increases in case incidence were mostly concentrated in areas with poor vaccination rates, such as in communities across Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. However, there is growing concern among experts that both colder weather and an increase in indoor gatherings, such as over Halloween weekend, will "further drive increases in COVID-19 transmission over the next couple of weeks."
The U.S. is likely at a critical moment for more highly vaccinated areas with colder weather and holiday gatherings approaching, according to the group.
"The coming weeks will reveal whether other highly vaccinated regions in the West, Midwest, and Northeast can maintain steady incidence rates -- and more importantly stable or declining hospitalizations -- amidst the increasing pressure of even colder weather and more gatherings," experts wrote.
-ABC News' Arielle Mitropoulos
Friday morning headlines
The CDC is reminding parents not to give kids a pain reliever before the vaccination to try to mitigate side effects. The CDC says pain relievers prior to a shot are not recommended because it's not known how it might affect the vaccine.
Instead, the agency urges parents to talk to their doctor about a non-aspirin pain reliever after the shot if needed.
In general, the CDC also recommends that people who have recovered from COVID-19 still get the shot. (Waiting 90 days is only necessary if the person received monoclonal antibodies.)
The Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board on Thursday voted to continue with a mask mandate. That means students and teachers need to wear a mask indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Republican state officials reacted with swift rebukes Thursday to President Joe Biden's newly detailed mandate for private employers to require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, threatening a wave of lawsuits and other actions to thwart a requirement they see as a stark example of government overreach.
At least two conservative groups moved quickly to file lawsuits against the workplace safety mandate, and a growing roster of GOP governors and attorneys general said more lawsuits were on the way as soon as Friday. Some Republican-led states had already passed laws or executive orders intended to protect employers that may not want to comply.
"This rule is garbage," South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said Thursday through a spokesperson. "It's unconstitutional and we will fight it." His state's governor, Republican Henry McMaster, said he is planning to issue an executive order keeping state agencies from enforcing the rule.
Puerto Rico's governor says officials will start vaccinating children ages 5 to 11 this week against COVID-19, and that getting the vaccine will be required to attend school in person with few exceptions. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said Wednesday that he anticipates that some 227,000 children will be vaccinated, with a goal to inoculate 95% of that population. So far, officials say that nearly 87% of children 12 to 15 years old have been vaccinated so far. The U.S. territory of 3.3 million people has reported more than 151,800 confirmed cases and more than 3,200 deaths.