8,620 new daily COVID-19 cases reported in North Carolina as hospitals fill up

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina, like many other states across the country, is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

THURSDAY
6:57 p.m.
You can get vaccinated and watch football on the same day at Saint Augustine's University this weekend.

On Saturday, the Link Up To Stop COVID Vaccination Event will take place at Emery Gymnasium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adjacent from the gym, the Falcons' football team will hold an intrasquad scrimmage from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the George Williams Athletic Complex.

Family, friends, and fans are invited to both events.

The vaccination event and football scrimmage are a collaboration between Saint Augustine's University, the Triangle Park Chapter of The Links, Inc., and Advance Community Health. They will provide refreshments and, as an incentive, offer $25 gift cards to the first 25 people who get vaccinated.

The Falcons open the season at home against Tusculum on Sept. 4. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

5 p.m.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released new data updating the number of vaccinated North Carolinians who have either gotten sick or died from COVID-19.

According to the data, unvaccinated North Carolinians are 4.4 times more likely to get COVID-19 and--when the data is adjusted for age--15.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated North Carolinians.

Since January 1, 29,683 vaccinated people in North Carolina have tested positive for COVID-19 and 150 have died--5% of cases and 2% of deaths.

Of the more than 4.5 million North Carolinians who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, about 6 for every 1,000 people have tested positive for the virus. About 3 in 100,000 people have died.

4:34 p.m.
Cumberland County will have a mask mandate go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously requested that the Public Health Director issue a public health imminent hazard abatement order for a county-wide mask mandate during a special meeting Tuesday. The health director signed the abatement Thursday.

The abatement states "All persons within Cumberland County shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in indoor spaces to include, (as an example, but not limited to) offices and workplaces, business establishments, private clubs attended by members, public transportation facilities and vehicles, stores for the sale of any goods, restaurants, bars, places for amusement or entertainment, gyms and places for exercise, schools, places of worship, or any place the public is invited or allowed to assemble."

Face coverings are not required by someone who:
  • Should not wear a face-covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance).
  • is younger than 5 years old and a parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place and maintain a face-covering safely on the child's face.
  • is in a private, individual office.
  • is actively eating or drinking.
  • is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible.
  • is giving a speech or performance for a broadcast, or to an audience, where they maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from the audience.
  • is not in an indoor public space as described in this order.
  • is temporarily removing their face covering for identification purposes to secure government or medical services or at the request of a law enforcement officer.
  • would be at risk of injury from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines.
  • is participating in worship activities for which wearing a face-covering hinders participation.
  • is a child younger than 2.


Signs will be posted in county buildings and can be posted in public places to remind residents and visitors of the mask requirement

The positivity rate of infections in Cumberland County has recently been reported as 15.1% as of Aug. 26. This is almost three times the rate compared to the beginning of July. The positivity rate of infections in surrounding counties is also at a higher rate than what the World Health Organization recommends, which is 5% positivity. They are Harnett at 13.4%, Hoke at 18.6%, Sampson at 13.2%, Bladen at 18.1%, Robeson at 16.3%, compared to the State of North Carolina at 13.5%.

4 p.m
Wake County health officials have identified a third COVID-19 outbreak at the Tammy Lynn Center, a residential care facility at 739 Chapell Drive in Raleigh.

The previous outbreaks occurred in September and December of 2020.

3:40 p.m.
Wake County Public Schools says it is experiencing the unavailability of certain food items because of a nationwide food and supply shortage. In the meantime, the school says it will work to find substitutions or limit its menu in some cases.

The school district also says its bus transportation schedules will improve as students get used to their schedules.

3:15 p.m.
Gov. Roy Cooper visited Pizzeria Mercato in Carrboro to thank the owner, Gabe Barker, and employees for their work to help protect staff, patrons and the community. The restaurant requires customers to show their vaccine card or a photo to dine indoors.

"When businesses and employers require vaccines, they are protecting their workers, customers and communities," Cooper said. "Policies like these will get more shots in arms that in turn will boost our economy and get us more quickly to the end of the pandemic."

Since implementing the vaccine verification policy, Pizzeria Mercato has seen an uptick in business, the governor's office said.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have guided our approach to doing business based around the health and safety of our staff as well as our community. Our vaccination policy that extends to both our staff and guests is only a continuation of that approach to operating," Barker said. "We are and will continue to be a neighborhood restaurant that values and prioritizes the well being of our community."

2:47 p.m.
The Federal Communications Commission announced that it has approved an initial set of 62 applications for funding commitments totaling $41.98 million for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

Health care providers in each state, territory, and the District of Columbia, including those previously unfunded in Round 1, will use this funding to provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC's COVID-19 Telehealth Program supports the efforts of health care providers to continue serving their patients by providing reimbursement for telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to health care has proven to be not only a national issue, but also a local issue, and it is imperative that every community is given the tools to access this care as safely and effectively as possible. The FCC is committed to ensuring that every state and territory in the United States receive funding as part of this program," said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. "The FCC took action earlier this year to establish a system for rating applications in Round 2, factoring in the hardest hit and lowest-income areas, Tribal communities, and previously unfunded states and territories. Now even more doctors and nurses in every corner of our country can establish or expand telehealth services to support patients and their families."

In North Carolina, Cape Fear Valley Health System was awarded $998,357 to deploy during the pandemic telemedicine carts and devices.

1:26 p.m.
The Halifax County Health Department said it has 160 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 6,343 total positive COVID-19 cases since March 2020.

There have been 116 deaths countywide -- 1.84% of cases.

12:56 p.m.
8,620 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Thursday.

That's a significant increase from the 6,130 reported on Wednesday and the highest the state has seen since early February.

The percent of positive tests in the state is at 13%.

3,552 people are currently hospitalized in North Carolina with COVID-19.

There are 883 adult COVID-19 ICU patients.

388 confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted into hospitals in the last 24 hours.

WCPSS is considering some new COVID-19 protocols after 140 cases were reported in the first two days of this week. That compares to July, before traditional calendar students went back to school, when WCPSS schools reported 148 positive cases among staff and students for the whole month.

Administrators blamed the more infectious Delta variant for the steep rise in cases.

All schools are now being asked to identify as many indoor -- and outdoor -- eating options as possible. The district is also considering starting regular COVID-19 testing for all student-athletes and employees.

And WCPSS administrators are considering a requirement that everyone wears face coverings indoors and outdoors on WCPSS campuses. That would include recess, athletics and extracurricular activities.

The Durham County Department of Public Health will open its vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to noon to provide walk-in Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccinations for moderately to severely immunocompromised people.

Do you need a COVID-19 booster shot? What you need to know

All people arriving to receive third doses should provide their vaccination cards indicating that they received both doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination at least 28 days prior to their third dose.

At this time, booster vaccinations will be available through DCoDPH at the regular vaccination clinic (414 E. Main St., Durham, NC 27701) only.

Per CDC guidance, individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and eligible for booster doses include people who have:
  • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response


Wake County Public Health will hold a live virtual town hall at 7 p.m. (WATCH HERE) Experts will answer questions about vaccine safety for pregnant people, those who want to become pregnant in the future and other concerns for expectant mothers.

The CDC recommends that all pregnant people, anyone thinking about becoming pregnant or those breastfeeding get vaccinated against the coronavirus. As of July 31, only 23% of those who are pregnant had received at least one dose of vaccine against the coronavirus, according to CDC statistics. The percentage is even lower among Black and Hispanic/Latino women.

Military service members must immediately begin to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a memo Wednesday, ordering service leaders to "impose ambitious timelines for implementation." Now that the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the Pentagon is adding it to the list of required shots troops must get as part of their military service. And according to Pentagon data, more than 800,000 service members have yet to get their shots.

WEDNESDAY



6:01 p.m.

The Durham County Department of Public Health will open its vaccination clinic Thursday morning from 9 a.m. to noon to provide walk-in Pfizer and Moderna booster vaccinations for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals only.

During these hours, the clinic will not offer first or second doses or provide vaccinations for people who are not moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Those eligible during these hours include those who have:
  • been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response


All people arriving to receive third doses should provide their vaccination cards indicating that they received both doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccination at least 28 days before their third dose.

The vaccination clinic will close Thursday at noon and reopen for its regular schedule at 9 a.m. on Monday.

1:30 p.m.
With new data in hand, Pfizer is now asking the FDA for full approval for a booster dose.

In a press release, the company says its Phase 3 data shows people who got a third booster dose between five to eight months after their second shot saw antibody levels elevated three times higher than the level seen after a second dose.

The CDC's independent advisory panel is planning to meet Aug. 30 to discuss mRNA booster doses, indicating regulators are getting closer to making a formal recommendation on booster doses.

Because the Pfizer shots are fully FDA approved, Pfizer is now asking the FDA to consider a "supplemental" application for a booster dose for people ages 16 and older. This is a "rolling submission," with Pfizer intending to complete the submission by the end of the week.

The Biden administration has previously set a goal that boosters will be available starting September 20, and likely to be recommended eight months after the 2nd shot of Pfizer or Moderna.

12:42 p.m.
6,130 new COVID-19 cases were reported in North Carolina on Wednesday.

The percent of positive tests is 13.5%.

3,503 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That's up significantly from 3,342 on Tuesday.

That number has been climbing since the beginning of July.

There are 856 adult ICU COVID-19 patients in North Carolina right now.

416 confirmed COVID-19 patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours.

11 a.m.
During a Wednesday news conference, doctors from multiple Wake County hospitals discussed the impact of the latest COVID surge on hospital capacity, mental health and staffing issues.

Dr. Timothy Plonk, Emergency Department Medical Director of Duke Raleigh Hospital, explained that wait times are higher than they have ever been, lobbies are full and there are more people to care for due to the Triangle being a fast-growing region.

Many of the doctors encouraged anyone with illnesses to find the best care for themselves early and to explore options like their primary care provider or an urgent care facility before heading to an emergency department, if possible.

"Our patients are a little sicker, oftentimes very sick. And our staff is working harder. And our lobbies are full. Our wait times are higher than they've ever been at Duke Raleigh," Dr. Plonk said.

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Dr. Timothy Plonk, Emergency Department Medical Director at Duke Raleigh Hospital, said lobbies there are full.



Dr. Plonk noted that COVID is not the only thing crowding hospitals. He said people who have chronic conditions who have not been able to care for themselves like they had been pre-pandemic are also part of the admitted patients.

People have lost jobs and family members or have had changes in primary care in the past 18 months. According to Dr. Plonk, these gaps in resources have been created by the pandemic that would otherwise keep them healthy.

Dr. Micah Krempasky, of WakeMed, said there has been a 40% increase in people experiencing depression and anxiety compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

Krempasky said some cases are so severe and cannot manage themselves in the community, leading to them requiring emergency care. There is currently a shortage of in-person psychiatric beds, leading to people waiting in the emergency department.

UNC REX's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Linda Butler said the hospital is caring for more patients with less staff.

As of Wednesday, she said, the hospital had over 500 patients. It's a 439-bed hospital but she said there were 520 patients. She added that the ICU beds are also full.

FULL VIDEO: Wake hospitals explain filled ICUs, staff shortages amid COVID surge
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FULL VIDEO: Wake hospitals give update on filled ICUs, staffing shortages amid COVID surge



10 a.m.
Doctors from Duke Health, UNC Health, WakeMed and Wake County discussed capacity strains due to COVID-19 and the steps needed to be taken to alleviate more hospital surges Wednesday morning.

It will include Dr. Timothy Plonk, Emergency Department Medical Director at Duke Raleigh Hospital, Dr. Linda Butler, Chief Medical Officer at UNC REX Healthcare, Dr. Seth Brody, Chief Physician Executive at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Dr. Micah Krempasky, Chief Medical Officer at WakeMed Behavioral Health and Dr. Jose Cabañas, Chief Medical Officer of Wake County.

6:45 a.m.
Johnson & Johnson announced data shows its booster shot six months after initial vaccination increases antibody levels nine-fold.

"We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months. With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine," said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. "We look forward to discussing with public health officials a potential strategy for our Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, boosting eight months or longer after the primary single-dose vaccination."

MORNING HEADLINES
Doctors from Duke Health, UNC Health, WakeMed and Wake County will discuss capacity strains due to COVID-19 and the steps needed to be taken to alleviate more hospital surges Wednesday morning.

The news conference will happen at 10 a.m. and include Dr. Timothy Plonk, Emergency Department Medical Director at Duke Raleigh Hospital, Dr. Linda Butler, Chief Medical Officer at UNC REX Healthcare, Dr. Seth Brody, Chief Physician Executive at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Dr. Micah Krempasky, Chief Medical Officer at WakeMed Behavioral Health and Dr. Jose Cabañas, Chief Medical Officer of Wake County.
In Fayetteville, Cape Fear Valley Health will also have a special community update on the COVID-19 situation at the hospital. At noon, a special broadcast with Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Michael Zappa will detail the current situation. It will be broadcast on the hospital's Facebook page.
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