NC sets record for highest number of new COVID-19 cases for 2nd-straight day with more than 19,000

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

6:20 p.m.
Fayetteville State University announced updates and changes to COVID-19 protocols for the spring semester.

As the university monitors Omicron variant cases, it said it is moving toward a more aggressive plan for re-entry testing and vaccination efforts.

Class start date will be delayed from Jan. 12 to Jan. 19 to allow time to conduct re-entry testing for students, faculty, and staff and establish priority window for re-entry testing.

From Jan. 4-18, all staff members are required to check-in at the re-entry testing site at Seabrook Auditorium.

From Jan. 10-18, all residential students are required to complete a re-entry health screening and COVID-19 testing in the Student Center.

From Jan. 10-19, all faculty members and commuter students are required to check-in at the re-entry testing sites (Seabrook Auditorium/Student Health Center) before beginning teaching or attending class.

There will be temporary suspension of visitation in residential halls, fans at athletic games, use of rental facilities and hosting of large events and Indoor dining (all dining facilities will provide to-go options).

Employees, students, and visitors are required to wear facial coverings inside all campus buildings and facilities in shared public spaces.

Click here for full details from FSU.

4:28 p.m.
The Omicron variant and New Year's holiday led to long lines at the new PNC Arena COVID-19 testing site on Friday.

"I've got a gathering on Sunday and I just want to make sure everything's in order and that we're safe," said Shauna Wreh, of Raleigh.

Monica Monahan, of Durham, recently traveled to New York.

"I'm going to try to stay away from people till I know the results," Monahan said. "I babysit for my 6-month-old granddaughter. So that's why I really wanted to make sure I was I didn't have any COVID that I would endanger her life."

They were staffed to test 5,000 people Friday at PNC Arena. They could ramp up the number of tests if there's more demand and they get more staff for the testing.

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An organizer told ABC11 that they administered about 6,000 tests at PNC, exceeding the expected number by 1,000.



An organizer told ABC11 that they administered about 6,000 tests at PNC, exceeding the expected number by 1,000.

Many people waited about an hour in their cars to get tested for COVID-19. MAKO Medical said it is hoping to get those wait times down to 20 to 30 minutes. Test results are expected in about 24 hours.

"We always staff for the capacity to get waits down to about 20 minutes," said Daniel Watkins, of MAKO Medical. "Right now, waits are a little over that. I think some of the people are waiting closer to an hour but you know being it's our first day, we'll adjust over the next couple of weeks."

Watkins said last year's testing spike started around Thanksgiving.

"It is a little bit of a surprise that it's been so late this year during the holiday season," Watkins said. "But, you know, we expect after New Year's, we're going to see another big wave after people have been out at mass gatherings, things like that."

MAKO Medical and NCDHHS also offered testing at Word of God Church in south Raleigh on Friday and that will continue Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The PNC Arena site will be closed this weekend and continue tests Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Jan. 31.

Those are the same dates MAKO and NCDHHS will offer tests at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. They'll be staffed for 5,000 tests a day there, too.

Tests are free and it's recommended you register.

For Zebulon, you can register here.

For PNC Arena, at 1400 Edwards Mill Road, enter at Gate E off Edwards Mill Road. You can register here. This site will close at noon on Jan. 7, 12, 13, 19, 21, 25 and 31.

For Word of God, at 3000 Rock Quarry Road, you can register here.

-- Reporting by ABC11's Gloria Rodriguez

1 p.m.
Pharmaceutical company Novavax has filed for Emergency Use Authorization for its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine. If authorized, it would become the fourth vaccine in the US.

An earlier study found the vaccine about 90% effective at preventing infection by COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing moderate to severe disease.



It has already been granted emergency use in Europe and India, among other countries.

The Novavax vaccine was developed and tested in part in RTP.

11:45 a.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 19,174 new COVID-19 cases Friday, shattering Thursdays disturbing single-day record. The state also reported the highest percentage of positive tests recorded thus far in the pandemic--22.9%, nearly five times the level health officials would like to see the metric.

Hospitalizations have rapidly increased over the last week, with 2,387 people currently hospitalized statewide with COVID-19. There are 526 adult ICU patients with COVID-19.

Since December 1, daily case counts have increased 530%, hospitalizations have increased 106%, and the percentage of positive tests has increased 2.2 fold.

10:30 a.m.
Duke University announced all undergraduate, graduate and professional school classes would remain remote until January 18 in a statement Friday.

"This is a disappointing reality that requires us to once again revise our plans for the beginning of Spring semester in order to protect the health of our campus and community and to ensure the continuity of campus operations," provost Sally Kornbluth said in a written statement.

Officials said they expect a high number of students will test positive upon returning to campus, requiring them to isolate. In addition, isolation requirements and caregiving responsibilities for staff would have an impact on campus operations as the spring semester begins.

Residence halls will open as scheduled on January 2, but students are asked to delay their return as long as possible. Dining options will be grab-and-go until January 18. Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate in their room.

"This is an uncertain time for all of us," Kornbluth said. "We have to make decisions with the best information we have, and that sometime means quick and potentially disruptive changes."

FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES

As demand for testing continues to surge across North Carolina, Wake County opened a new testing site at PNC Arena Friday. Unlike the county's other no-cost test sites, an appointment is not required to show up to get a COVID-19 test, however, everyone must pre-register online.

For the past few days, the county has been crushed by testing demand, performing more than 13,000 swabs daily across its five sites. But the increase in testing isn't providing much solace to public health officials--with record high percentages of positive tests, epidemiologists know that community spread is far more rampant than is even being tested.

The new testing site at PNC arena will be open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on game days when it will close at 12 p.m.

THURSDAY



4:30 p.m.
In addition to the highest number of single-day COVID- cases reported in the state since the start of the pandemic, NCDHHS said the daily percent positive is at 22%.

NCDHHS said it is closely monitoring hospital capacity and is urging North Carolinians to gather safely, get vaccinated and boosted, and wear a mask indoors in public places.

4 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at The Laurels of Forest Glen, a skilled nursing facility at 1101 Hartwell St. in Garner. This is the facility's fourth outbreak. The previous outbreaks occurred in September 2021, November 2020 and June 2020.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services defines an outbreak as two or more people - residents or employees - testing positive for the virus.

3:48 p.m.
Mako Medical will be operating two drive-up COVID-19 testing sites at PNC Arena in west Raleigh and Word of God church in south Raleigh on Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wake County reports wait times at both sites as low, but registering for a test will save time in line. Proof of insurance is not required and there is no cost for a test.

For PNC Arena, at 1400 Edwards Mill Road, enter at Gate E off Edwards Mill Road. You can register here.

For Word of God, at 3000 Rock Quarry Road, you can register here.

3:24 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 18,571 new cases, the state's highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases.

The number was 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January. The number of people visiting emergency rooms for COVID-like illness also set a record at 4,171. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled since the beginning of December.

NCDHHS said data suggests that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause less severe illness for people who are vaccinated. However, those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying medical conditions are at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization.

Currently, 89% of people in intensive care are unvaccinated. Hospitalizations are likely to increase as the trend typically lags four to five days after an increase in cases.

"We are concerned that even a very small proportion of these cases ending up in the hospital could overwhelm our hospital system and increase the loss of lives of those most vulnerable," said incoming NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. "Everyone can help save lives and protect hospital capacity by getting vaccinated if you haven't already and getting boosted if you are eligible."

2:20 p.m.
Because of high demand and staffing shortages, the Orange County Health Department's COVID-19 test clinics are now by appointment only.

All test sites are closed on Saturday for New Year's Day. You can find more information about testing in Orange County here

1:53 p.m.
Wake County Public School System is expanding its on campus COVID-19 testing program to all of its schools starting in 2022.

Through the district's partnership with Mako Medical, students and staff will be able to get weekly tests at their school. School officials also recommend that students get tested in the days before classes start to make sure they are healthy before they come back to class.

The district also emphasized the importance of vaccinations now that vaccines are authorized for children 5 years old and up. According to the latest NCDHHS data, 38% of the Wake County population ages 5-11 has gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 68% of those 12-17 have gotten their first dose.

Read more here.

10:16 a.m.
The Wayne County Health Department will not have COVID-19 testing available until further notice.

Demand for testing has increased significantly nationwide over the past two weeks, and additional test kits have been ordered from the State. At this time, testing is expected to resume by the middle of next week.

THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
In a news conference Wednesday, the director of the World Health Organization warned that as the Delta and Omicron variants circulate the globe simultaneously, the world could see a "tsunami" of COVID-19 cases in the coming months.

"Right now, Delta and Omicron are twin threats that are driving up cases to record numbers, which again is leading to spikes in hospitalizations and deaths," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "I am highly concerned that Omicron being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta - is leading to a tsunami of cases."

Tedros referenced studies that indicate Omicron may cause less severe disease than previous strains, however, he stressed the importance of its increased transmissibility, saying that it will still lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths.

His announcement came as the U.S. joined the list of countries that reported record high case counts--the average 7-day case count for the U.S. topped 275,000 on Wednesday according to CDC data.

The WHO recommends vaccines as the best way to slow the pandemic--recommending governments encourage 70% of their populations to get vaccinated by July 2022.
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