RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina, like many other states across the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Previewing two studies that will publish Friday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said data from August shows that children were four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID in the states with the lowest vaccination rates as compared to states with the highest ones -- proof that "cocooning" children with vaccinated people keeps them safe.
"We must come together to ensure that our children, indeed, our future, remain safe and healthy during this time," Walensky said at Thursday's White House briefing.
The study looked at national case and hospitalization rates in August.
"The rate of hospitalization for children was nearly four times higher in states with the lowest overall vaccination coverage when compared to states with high overall vaccination coverage," Walensky said.
Another study, which looked at adolescents ages 12-17 (eligible to get the vaccine) across 14 states showed an upsetting but unsurprising finding: Unvaccinated adolescents were 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID during the month of July.
"Both studies, one thing is clear: cases, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, are much lower among children and communities with higher vaccination rates," Walensky said.
Walensky also said the two studies further prove that delta is not more dangerous in children, it's just more transmissible.
"Cases for children and adolescents 17 and under increased by nearly tenfold, which aligns with the increase seen for the general population. And although we are seeing more cases in children, and more overall cases, these studies demonstrated that there was not increased disease severity in children," Walensky said.
"Instead, more children have COVID-19, because there is more disease in the community. What is clear from these data is community level vaccination coverage protects our children," Walensky said.
Governor Roy Cooper signed an Executive Order in an effort to make it easier for North Carolinians to access treatment for COVID-19.
The Executive Order authorizes and directs State Health Director, Dr. Betsey Tilson, to issue a statewide standing order to expand access to monoclonal antibody treatment.
Experts say, if taken early, the treatment can decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
The Order will be in effect through November 30, 2021.
"Expanding access to monoclonal antibody therapy will help more patients across the state get this highly effective COVID-19 treatment," said Governor Cooper. "In addition to getting more people vaccinated, we need to do all we can to save the lives of people who become infected."
NCDHHS reports that while they have seen an increase in the number of providers who are administering monoclonal antibody treatment, there is still limited capacity to administer this medication among the state's primary care providers and providers not associated with a health system.
Cooper's office said a statewide standing order for monoclonal antibody treatment will make it easier for people with COVID-19 symptoms, particularly those with less access to a regular health care provider, to get this potentially life-saving treatment. Under the order, treatment could be provided in a medical supervised community setting, such as part of COVID-19 testing sites.
"We want to do everything possible to help people recover from COVID and keep them out of the hospital," said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. "Get tested right away if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Treatment for COVID must be given within 10 days of symptoms starting and before someone becomes sick enough to need the hospital."
If you have questions, you ca call the Combat COVID Monoclonal Antibodies Call Center at 1-877-332-6585 (English) or 1-877-366-0310 (Spanish).
According to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, unvaccinated North Carolinians are more than four times as likely to test positive for COVID-19 than vaccinated individuals.
Unvaccinated people are also 15 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated after adjusting for age.
Post-vaccination cases -- also called breakthrough cases -- actually decreased statewide last week for the first time in a month.
Those cases made up 17 percent of all cases reported last week.
Less than 1 percent of vaccinated people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19 this year.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 in the children's unit of Holly Hill Hospital's South Campus, located at 201 Michael J. Smith Lane, Raleigh.
This is the fourth outbreak at Holly Hill's South Campus. The previous outbreaks occurred in July 2020, November 2020 and April 2021.
WCPSS announced that, due to the increased number of clusters and exposures involving high school athletics, face coverings will now be required for students unless they are directly participating in games, practices and performances. This applies to all sports teams, marching bands and other student groups including cheerleading and JROTC activities.
The change should take effect at schools no later than Thursday. It affects all grade levels and means face coverings will be required on the sidelines and wherever staff and students congregate. Face coverings and social distancing are strongly recommended for spectators.
Another 7,901 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Thursday. The daily percent positive rate dropped a bit to 12.6 percent, which is still far above the 5 percent state goal.
After seeing the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in months Wednesday, the number increased yet again Thursday.
3,789 people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19. There are 914 adult ICU COVID-19 patients.
427 confirmed COVID-19 patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours.
96 more people died from the virus, bringing the state's COVID-19 death toll up to 14,625.
Once a touchy subject in the private sector, a new survey indicates that most firms are now planning on having COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their workforce.
The number of companies requiring workers to get the shot is expected to surge over the next several months, according to data released by Wednesday by Willis Towers Watson, a multinational advisory and insurance firm.
Lakewood speech language pathologist creates unique method to help clients amid pandemic
Over half of the employers surveyed (52%) said that by the fourth quarter of 2021, they could have one or more vaccine mandate requirements in the workplace. This ranges from requiring vaccinations for employees to access common areas (such as cafeterias) to requiring the jab for a subset of specific employees to requiring it for all employees. This is a major hike from the current 21% of firms that have some type of vaccine mandate in place for employees.
The survey was conducted between Aug. 18 and 25 -- in the wake of the insidious spread of the more contagious delta variant -- and respondents included nearly 1,000 U.S. employers that together employ nearly 10 million workers.
"The delta variant has made employers take new actions to keep their workers -- and workplaces -- safe and healthy. We expect even more employers to institute vaccine mandates in the wake of FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine," Dr. Jeff Levin-Scherz, the population health leader at Willis Towers Watson, said in a statement.
THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
North Carolina lawmakers are considering new legislation in light of COVID-19.
One bill would limit Gov. Roy Cooper's power during emergencies.
A Senate committee led by Republicans voted on Wednesday for a measure that would require governors to get specific support from other elected leaders if they wish to extend an emergency order.
Two other bills focus on visitation rights in hospitals and nursing homes during emergencies.
The first would require hospitals to let clergy members visit patients during emergencies like pandemics. The Senate gave the final OK to the bill on Wednesday and will send it along to Gov. Roy Cooper.
The bill would require the minister to comply with health screenings and other infection controls that don't interfere with religious beliefs. The measure was named for an eastern North Carolina resident who died at a hospital last year. His family and pastor had trouble getting in to visit him due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The second would establish visitation policies for nursing homes and adult care homes for declared emergencies. The bill received final legislative approval on Tuesday. It tells the state Department of Health and Human Services to create visitation protocols for declared emergencies and implement them by next June.
Those protocols would allow each resident to receive a visit at least twice per month from a preapproved visitor. Visitations would still be subject to federal health directives. The bill is a response to visitation bans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Warren County Schools said Warren County High School and Vaughan Elementary will be switching to remote temporarily due to staffing shortages.
Warren County High School began their first day of remote learning Wednesday and will return to in-person Thursday, Sept. 9.
Vaughan Elementary will begin online classes starting Thursday and will resume in-person classes Wednesday, Sept. 8.
Both schools will offer curbside meal distribution from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cumberland County Schools said Beaver Dam Elementary School will temporarily shift to remote instruction through at least Sept. 10, and possibly longer because the number of positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines, which resulted in a COVID-19 cluster, has caused a staffing shortage at the school.
Temporary remote learning at Beaver Dam Elementary will begin Thursday. The district notified families Wednesday afternoon.
Cumberland County Schools officials are also temporarily halting football games and practices for Cape Fear High School and Jack Britt High School because of COVID-19 clusters.
"Our top priority is to operate our schools in-person all year as safely as possible, but that will require everyone working together, following guidance from health officials, getting vaccinated if eligible and practicing the 3 Ws," said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. "We urge parents to remember that if their child is exhibiting any signs of illness, they need to keep them at home, let the school know, and contact their healthcare professional."
In a joint statement, the American Medical Association, American Pharmacists Association and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists are calling an "immediate end" to prescribing, dispensing or using ivermectin, either to treat or prevent covid-19. Ivermectin is available in different formulations for both people and animals, to treat parasites. It is not approved to treat or prevent covid-19, nor is there enough evidence to support its use.
From the statement: "We are alarmed by reports that outpatient prescribing for and dispensing of ivermectin have increased 24-fold since before the pandemic and increased exponentially over the past few months ... In addition, we are urging physicians, pharmacists, and other prescribers - trusted healthcare professionals in their communities - to warn patients against the use of ivermectin outside of FDA-approved indications and guidance, whether intended for use in humans or animals, as well as purchasing ivermectin from online stores. Veterinary forms of this medication are highly concentrated for large animals and pose a significant toxicity risk for humans."
COVID-19 vaccinations will not be required at the popular NC State Fair. Despite officials not checking for vaccinations, they do encourage people to get vaccinated.
In July, the 2020 State Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials announced in February that the fall event is still on.
Starting Sept. 4, the NC DMV will temporarily suspend its Saturday services at the 16 driver license offices where services were available.
The agency said this move is being made "to better protect customers and staff from the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant."
"Temporarily suspending Saturday hours will reduce potential COVID exposures, as examiners who work on Saturdays typically travel from several offices to work together in one office," the agency said in a news release.
Saturday service hours from 8 a.m.-noon will be suspended at the following driver license offices:
Asheville, 1624 Patton Ave.
Charlotte, 9711 David Taylor Dr.
Charlotte, 201-H W. Arrowood Rd.
Durham, 3825 S. Roxboro St., Suite 119
Fayetteville, 831 Elm St.
Greensboro, 2527 E. Market St.
Greensboro, 2391 Coliseum Blvd.
Greenville, 4651 North Creek Dr.
Hendersonville, 125 Baystone Dr.
Hudson, 309 Pine Mountain Rd.
Huntersville, 12101 Mount Holly-Huntersville Rd.
Jacksonville, 299 Wilmington Hwy.
Monroe, 3122 U.S. Hwy. 74 W.
Raleigh, 2431 Spring Forest Rd., Suite 101
Wilmington, 2390 Carolina Beach Rd., Suite 104
Winston-Salem, 2001 Silas Creek Pkwy.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be installing six additional canopies on campus this weekend, weather permitting, to give more space for outdoor dining.
Canopies will be installed at:
Two canopies on the north side of Lenoir
Two canopies on the south side of Lenoir
One canopy on the Manning quad
One canopy on the Carroll quad
7,248 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Wednesday.
The daily percent of positive tests is at 13.8%.
3,757 are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.
That's the highest number of hospitalizations North Carolina has seen in recent months.
There are 926 adult ICU COVID-19 patients.
438 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted into hospitals in the last 24 hours.
61 more deaths were reported on Wednesday.
The Durham County Department of Public Health (DCoDPH) will offer COVID-19 vaccines at two community locations during the week of August 30. These events are free, and no identification is required.
Thursday, September 2:
When: Thursday, September 2, 4:00pm-5:30pm
Where: Lighthouse Food Mart. 2944 Holloway St., Durham, NC 27703.
Vaccines offered: Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson; first and second doses
How to be vaccinated: Walk-ins only. Open to all people 12 and older.
Friday, September 3:
When: Friday, September 3, 3:00pm-5:30pm
Where: AW North Carolina. 4112 Old Oxford Hwy., Durham, NC 27712
Vaccines offered: Johnson & Johnson
How to be vaccinated: Walk-ins only.
Due to the surge of Covid-19 cases, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking unvaccinated Americans not to travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The US is surpassing an average of 160,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. With the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant and many students returning to the classroom for a new academic year, the rise is concerning officials and health experts.
"First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing on Tuesday.
Walensky said that while people who are fully vaccinated can travel with precautions, current transmission rates mean they too need to take Covid-19 risk into consideration when deciding whether to travel.
UNC Rex Healthcare announced it will postpone the opening of its new Holly Springs Hospital until November and redeploy existing employees and new hires to its main Raleigh hospital, which remains very busy caring for COVID and non-COVID patients.
A spokesperson said the postponement decision was made "to ensure that its teammates can continue to provide excellent care for all patients during the current surge in COVID cases."
"This was a difficult decision, but we need all hands on deck to respond to the rapid surge of COVID patients," said Ernie Bovio, president of UNC Rex. "Our staff is tired, both physically and mentally, but they continue to go above and beyond in caring for our patients each and every day. We want to make sure our teammates have the resources and support they need during these challenging times."
In addition to postponing the opening of the Holly Springs Hospital, UNC Rex also said it will reduce the number of non-emergent surgeries and procedures, which will increase the Raleigh hospital's capacity to care for COVID patients.
WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Two central North Carolina towns are mandating vaccines today.
All town employees in Carrboro and Hillsborough must now show proof of vaccination status.
Those in Hillsborough who are still not vaccinated must get tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Carrboro said more than 70 percent of employees had been vaccinated by the start of August when the policy was announced. It's unclear how many remain unvaccinated today.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration is stretched thin, according to CNN sources.
The sources said some in the FDA are frustrated as the pandemic rages on and the agency feels pressure to assess other vaccines for approval, expand vaccine access to kids under 12 and create guidelines for potential booster shots.
US health officials have noted that they think booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine could be available starting the week of September 20.
Q&A: Should COVID-19 vaccines be mandatory for children to go to school?