FRIDAY MORNING HEADLINES
COVID-19 vaccinations will be given at Walgreens locations in North Carolina starting Friday.
The state is just one of 15 states where the national pharmacy will be distributing the vaccines.
Walgreens is following North Carolina guidelines for vaccine distribution–meaning you must be a healthcare worker or be over 65 years old to receive the vaccine at this point.
The pharmacy is also only doing vaccines by appointment. You can make an appointment and find out which location near you has vaccine supply.
The health department said the goal of allowing vaccines to be distributed through Walgreens is to help make sure people living in medically underserved areas have access to the vaccine.
State health officials confirmed Thursday that the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa has now been confirmed in North Carolina.
North Carolina becomes the first state to report a confirmed case of the South African variant, which so far appears more contagious but not more severe.
All this comes as COVID-19 metrics appear to be improving. On Thursday, the state reported a daily COVID-19 percent positive rate below 6% for the first time since October.
New numbers are expected to be released around 12 p.m. today.
Fayetteville Area System of Transit (FAST) has suspended multiple bus routes after three employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The following bus routes are suspended due to the shortage of drivers:
- Route 9 – Stacy Weaver Drive/Rosehill Road
- Route 10 – Strickland Bridge Road
- Route 11 – Country Club Drive/Pamalee Drive
- Route 15 – Cape Fear Valley Medical Center/Cross Creek Mall
- Route 19 – Yadkin Road
- Route 31 – Owen Drive/Gillespie Street (includes Enterprise Avenue)
Route 7 – Raeford Road will operate on a reduced service schedule.
At least 30 other people are in quarantine following exposure. The initial employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 10. The City of Fayetteville Human Resource Development team is working on contact tracing
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the first identification of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351, a variant first detected in South Africa, in a North Carolina resident.
The B.1.351 variant was detected in South Africa in October and in the United States in January.
The North Carolina B.1.351 variant case was identified in a sample from an adult in the central part of the state who had not recently traveled, according to NCDHHS.
The specimen was tested by LabCorp and selected for sequencing as part of a partnership with the CDC.
North Carolina is the fourth state to report an identified case of this variant. As of Feb. 9, nine cases of infection with the variant had been identified in residents of South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia.
Viruses change all the time, and NCDHHS said it expects to see new COVID-19 variants in the state as the pandemic continues.
Data suggest this variant may be more contagious than other variants but does not suggest that it causes more severe disease. Current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be effective against this and other new variants.
“While we anticipated the arrival of the B.1.351 variant in NC, it’s a reminder that the fight against COVID-19 is not over. The emergence of variants that are more infectious means it’s more important than ever to do what we know works to slow the spread – wear a mask, wash your hands, wait 6 feet apart, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.
The NC House has passed Senate Bill 37, which requires school districts to provide an in-person learning option for this school year.
The measure, which passed by a 74-44 vote, now goes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
If it passes there, the bill will go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk for approval or veto.
Senate Bill 37 does let students continue with remote learning if they choose.
Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, a public school teacher and co-chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the legislation provides families certainty in education and economic planning.
“Currently our students are subject to shifting executive orders and mixed messages from the administration which have created confusion and led to local delays, making it very difficult for parents to plan for their jobs and their child’s education,” Elmore said Thursday. “This legislation gives North Carolina families certainty and access to classrooms by combining over a billion dollars of new education funding with local decision-making to implement a return to in-person learning now.”
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said that current restrictions keeping students out of the classroom are forcing parents to miss work or seek education alternatives, and the legislation gives school systems flexibility to adjust student assignments for in-person learning.
“Closing schools has burdened North Carolina families economically while young people fall behind in their studies, producing a devastating impact on student achievement and exacerbating socieconomic disparities,” Moore said Thursday. “We are listening to educators, healthcare experts, parents, and most importantly our students, who have a constitutional right to access education communities that serve their academic needs.”
The percent daily positive COVID-19 rate continued its precipitous drop with Thursday’s updated metrics.
The rate had been in the teens as recently as last week, but Thursday’s report showed the rate at 5.9%. The state goal, which it has not achieved since the fall of 2020 is to be below 5%.
The state’s metrics showed another 113 new deaths from the virus, bring the total count to 10,294.
One hundred and six fewer people were reported to be hospitalized with the virus.
For a full breakdown of Thursday’s metrics, you can click here.
THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
The parking lot at PNC Arena opens Thursday as the first COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Raleigh.
However, you will not be able to just show up and get vaccinated. Vaccine supply remains extremely limited; that’s why you must have an appointment to get vaccinated at PNC Arena for now.
Slots are all full for today and Saturday. However, you can sign up for the waitlist–if you’re a healthcare worker or over the age of 65. At this point, that waitlist reportedly has more than 90,000 people on it.
To do so, go to COVID19.wakegov.com or call 919-250-1515.
Officials said they hope to vaccinate 2,100 people at PNC Arena on Thursday. The goal for the site is to continue operating regularly, but of course that all depends on how many doses of the vaccine the area receives.
Tomorrow, Walgreens will join the race to vaccinate in North Carolina. The pharmacy is sending including 31,000 doses of the vaccine to 300 stores in North Carolina.
Walgreens is also not accepting walk-ins. You must make an appointment on its website.
You may also see reports that CVS is also opening bookings for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. However, CVS is not yet giving shots in North Carolina.
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