Dangerous weather causes 3 COVID-19 testing sites in Wake County to close Monday

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

9:56 p.m.
With icy conditions possible Tuesday morning, Wake County will operate on a delay. Wake County Public Health's COVID-19 testing sites and vaccination clinics will open at 10 a.m. Public libraries, parks, solid waste facilities and other county services will operate on a two-hour delay.

Wake County Public Health's five drive-thru testing sites will not open until 10 a.m. If you have an appointment for an earlier time, you may stop by your scheduled site any time before 7 p.m. for your free COVID-19 test. Simply show staff your appointment confirmation email with the date and time of your appointment just above the QR code. Please anticipate long lines at testing sites.

This delayed opening only applies to Wake County Public Health testing sites.

Appointments are required at the five Wake County Public Health testing sites. Results from the sites continue to come back in less than 12 hours and require no-cost, no ID and no insurance. Please have the QR code from your appointment confirmation email pulled up on your phone as you drive up.

If your appointment is at Wake County's busiest site - the Wake County Health and Human Services parking lot also known as the Swinburne Building - enter the site via Sunnybrook Road. Traffic will not be allowed to enter from Kidd Road. The county has added more staff and signage, and it's already improving the flow of traffic entering the site from Sunnybrook Road.

Only vaccination appointments at Wake County's Departure Drive location will be affected by the delayed opening. All other Wake County Public Health vaccine clinics have Tuesday hours that begin at 11:45 a.m.

Anyone who has an appointment before 10 a.m. at Departure Drive can come back any time Tuesday and receive their vaccine or booster. Vaccine clinics are open until 4 p.m.

4 p.m.
The Wake County testing sites that are run by the Wake County Health Department are all back up and running.

At Wake County's busiest testing site, on Kidd Road right off Sunnybrook, some people were waiting for well more than an hour.

That's been the case for much of the day.

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Raleigh COVID-19 testing centers reopen after wintry weather slams sites. DeJuan Hoggard reports.



Earlier, tents were knocked over at the PNC Arena testing site as strong winds blew in and snow began to fall.

Testing at that site and at two other ones (Word of God Fellowship on Rock Quarry Road and Five County Stadium in Zebulon) administered by MAKO Medical closed early.

The Kidd Road site will run until 7 p.m. Other sites that closed early will reopen Tuesday at normal times.

Wake officials say to keep the line moving efficiently, come at the time of your appointment (don't come too early), don't show up without an appointment, and have your QR code ready.

-- Reporting by ABC11's DeJuan Hoggard

2:34 p.m.
Most of the sports headlines involving COVID-19 revolve around football and basketball, but non-revenue sports are dealing with the effects of the pandemic as well.

The NC State gymnastics team has withdrawn from a quad meet at North Carolina with Auburn and Bowling Green on Friday as the Wolfpack program is following COVID protocols.

2:33 p.m.
A Greene Correctional offender who tested positive for COVID-19 has died at a hospital.

"We are working hard in our ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offenders is our top priority," said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons. "We strongly encourage all offenders to elect to be vaccinated and boosted. It's very important."

The inmate, who was in his 70s and had existing medical conditions, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and was hospitalized on Dec. 24. His condition worsened, and he died on Jan. 1. He had not received any COVID-19 shots.

Initial review indicates that COVID-19 was likely the cause or at least a contributing factor to his death. Final determination of cause of death will be made following review by the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

2:26 p.m.
U.S. Senators Richard Burr, R-NC, Ranking Member of the Senator Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Roy Blunt, R-MO, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, sent a letter urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to detail the administration's strategy for solving the nation's severe shortage of COVID-19 tests as coronavirus cases driven by the omicron variant continue to skyrocket.

Senators Burr and Blunt noted that the nation is facing a shortage of COVID-19 tests despite Congress having provided more than $80 billion during the last two years to improve and expand testing related capabilities.

"With over $82.6 billion specifically appropriated for testing, and flexibility within the Department to allocate additional funds from COVID-19 supplemental bills or annual appropriations if necessary, it is unclear to us why we are facing such dire circumstances now. It does not appear to be because of lack of funding, but a more fundamental lack of strategy and a failure to anticipate future testing needs by the administration," the senators wrote. "As we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that Congress, and the American people, have an understanding of the administration's strategy and accounting of how the Department is using taxpayer funding."

12:30 p.m.
NC Department of Health and Human Services released new metrics Monday for the first time since Friday.

The state reported 12,989 new COVID-19 cases with a 27.4 daily percent positive rate--which is well above the 5% goal.

In addition, 335 more people are now in the hospital with the virus and 31 more North Carolinians died over the weekend from COVID-19.

10:10 a.m.
The U.S. is expanding COVID-19 boosters as it confronts the omicron surge, with the Food and Drug Administration allowing extra Pfizer shots for children as young as 12.

Boosters already are recommended for everyone 16 and older, and federal regulators on Monday decided they're also warranted for 12- to 15-year-olds once enough time has passed since their last dose.

Full story

9:45 a.m.
Three Wake County COVID-19 testing sites have decided to close Monday due to weather.

MAKO Medical operates Wake County's testing sites at PNC Arena, Word of God Assembly Church, and Five County Stadium. Those are the three sites that will not operate Monday.

MAKO Medical said people already in line for tests will be tested, but the sites will then promptly close.

Those three sites are scheduled to open for regular hours Tuesday (7 a.m. - 4 p.m.).

Wake County said it's other five testing sites are open Monday. They had to delay their opening because of the weather, but as of 9:45 a.m. they were all open and testing people who had appointments.

7:30 a.m.

COVID-19 testing sites in Wake County will not open on time Monday.

The heavy rain, strong wind and potential for snow has caused officials to delay opening all five of the Wake County COVID-19 testing sites.

The sites were supposed to open at 9 a.m. but now will not open until at least 9:30 a.m.



FRIDAY
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."
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