FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES
State Republican lawmakers are working on legislation that would require some sort of in-person instruction from each school district. The news comes as reports of schools aren’t seeing high COVID-19 transmission rates.
Parents would still have the option for virtual learning under the legislation. Gov. Roy Cooper has said he wants students back in the classroom as soon as it’s safe, but the decision is ultimately up to each district. The Wake County School board will decide whether all remote learning will continue in a Feb. 9 meeting.
The legislation proposal is expected to be unveiled in the coming days.
New data from the CDC shows that 26 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Around 21 million have received at least one dose. In North Carolina, approximately 850,000 doses have been given out.
Cumberland County is hosting another COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Crown Expo. This clinic is for the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Cumberland County officials have put out an urgent call for more volunteers to help keep their weekly vaccine distribution centers operational.
The county made the official announcement through several social media posts, asking any community members to sign up.
Gene Booth, the Cumberland County Emergency Management Director, tells Eyewitness News that this long-term operation requires more help. “The thing is this is going to be long-reaching, potentially a long term process and a long term event.”
Right now, the county is receiving help from the community emergency response team, Team Rubicon, and Civil Air Patrol. In all, that’s around 30 volunteers available on a daily basis, with the addition of 16 National Guard members to assist with vaccinations or other duties.
Wendy Zaborowski, an Army veteran and Sandhills resident, is a long-time volunteer at Team Rubicon. The disaster response group sends veterans and other professionals to provide relief and assistance.
“I’m 50 years old, and I am service-oriented. I was a police officer for a number of years; I retired from the military, so service is almost in my blood,” Zaborowski said.
Zaborowski has been helping Cumberland County operate its vaccination site at the Crown Complex for the last three weeks saying, “our main purpose is to try and make sure that they can continue on through the process so it doesn’t waste their time and it spares a spot for somebody else that needs to get vaccinated.”
The county’s emergency management is also utilizing volunteer nurses from nearby schools, according to Booth. He says they’ve recruited them from “Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State, Methodist University, and recently, we also have Campbell University students.”
Since the county posted the need on social media, Booth says they’ve received 80 applications. If you would like to sign up, you can click this link for the application process.
The Durham County Department of Public Health will temporarily close its vaccine appointment scheduling line and will not add new vaccination dates to its online booking site effective immediately.
This is because of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply expected to arrive from the NC Department of Health and Human Services to the Durham health department. This will affect scheduling for DCoDPH and Southern High School vaccination sites.
No currently scheduled vaccine appointments will be canceled or postponed, though some appointments beginning February 1 will be moved from the Health Department location to the Southern High School location.
People whose appointments must be moved will be contacted by phone or email.
“We are very thankful that we do not have to cancel any currently standing appointments, but as Secretary Cohen explained to the public in her news conference earlier this week, the unfortunate reality is that demand is far outpacing supply,” said Health Director Rod Jenkins. “Durham County has a baseline allocation of 600 first doses for the next three weeks, and we are uncertain when our allocation will increase. It is best to halt scheduling until we are confident we will be able to fulfill additional appointments.
“We hope that by the end of February we will be able to reopen our scheduling process and see increased supply, but that is uncertain at this time. We will continue to provide more information as it is received,” Jenkins added.
People in vaccination phases 1 and 2 may still sign up for the COVID-19 Vaccine Waitlist. The list is also available in Spanish. Those who fill out the form will receive a call if vaccine doses become available because of appointment cancellations or no-shows.
The Moore County Health Department has been notified of the deaths of 24 residents whose deaths were determined to be related to COVID-19 infection. The deaths date to December 11.
All 24 residents were 65 or older. All but six were 75 or older.
A total of 133 deaths have now been attributed to COVID-19 in Moore County since March. Moore County’s total for COVID-19 deaths linked to outbreaks in long-term care facilities stands at 70. Moore County’s 63 other COVID-19 deaths have been linked to community spread.
There have been 6,924 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Moore County.
Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead has asked all employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have informed all employees representing the Sheriff’s Office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Birkhead said. “This includes employees working in the Durham County Detention Center. My office is working with the Durham County Department of Public Health and our medical provider to make the vaccine available to our detainees housed there as soon as possible.”
In a release, Birkhead said the sheriff’s office has been affected by COVID-19 but it continues to serve the community.
“The very nature of our work requires continual human contact and interaction – be it inside the Detention Facility, at the Durham County Justice Center, or when our deputies travel throughout the County responding to calls for service,” Birkhead said. “Throughout the duration of the pandemic that started 325 days ago, I have received input from my command staff while consulting with medical and health professionals across our region, state and nation. As the leader of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, I am responsible to follow the science and the resulting data.
“Since the time of the internal announcement, numbers thus far show that more than half of the agency has received the first dose and are scheduled to receive the second dose throughout the month of February.,” Birkhead added. “We do not have the final numbers or exact percentages right now. We are still coordinating with DCoDPH to ensure all employees be vaccinated. We want all DCSO employees to complete this process as soon as possible, but it is dependent upon the availability of the vaccine and scheduling appointments.”
The Halifax County Health Department reports 45 new cases for a total of 4,157 positive COVID 19 cases. The death toll remains at 80.
Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen visited the Piedmont Health SeniorCare center in Pittsboro on Thursday to see patients in the Chatham County community receive the vaccine.
“From the beginning, we have focused on distributing vaccines quickly and equitably,” Cooper said. “The vaccine is still in short supply, but we are working to ensure that all North Carolinians have a spot to get their shot.”
The state is encouraging hospitals and health departments to partner with trusted community organizations who can host vaccination events at churches, community centers and other places that will be accessible to all North Carolinians.
“Community health centers are the lifeline to health care for thousands of rural and underserved communities. They’ve been frontline partners in providing testing throughout the pandemic and are an important part of the state’s strategy to ensure marginalized residents have access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Cohen said.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell and the State Health Plan are calling for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to provide vaccines and allow primary care physicians, pediatricians and all pharmacies to administer the shots. North Carolina has come under fire for its slow pace in administering the allotted vaccines to residents and Folwell hopes to change that.
“For almost a year we’ve known that there are regional and cultural differences in attitude towards vaccines, especially new ones,” Folwell said. “We’ve always known that ground zero is elderly facilities and prisons. The administration of the rollout has not reflected the standards that North Carolinians should expect.”
The NCDHHS plan is to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals first, those 75 and older next and expanded that to include those 65 and older. Folwell contended that expansion happened even though the 75-year-old population has not been completely vaccinated. He said this has caused unnecessary anxiety among the most vulnerable. NCDHHS has been slow to actually administer the shots because of its decision to allow only hospitals and health departments to get and administer the vaccines, Folwell observed.
“We need to move the vaccines out of the expensive hospital environment. In 62 years, I’ve never gone to a hospital to get a vaccine,” Folwell said. “For more than 100 years, citizens have entrusted primary care physicians, pediatricians and pharmacies to administer vaccines. People are dying; poverty and illiteracy are worsening. The State Health Plan and the Clear Pricing Project Network stand ready to help get the vaccines out to the public.
“We have tens of thousands of independent physicians and other medical providers who are ready to give these vaccines today,” Folwell added. “We need to be getting the doses to the people who want the vaccines using primary care doctors, physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists – anybody with medical expertise. If all fails, solicit the advice of the teenagers who run Chick-Fil-A. They know how to distribute product!”
North Carolina has surpassed 9,000 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
131 more deaths were reported on Thursday.
The latest numbers from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services showed 6,490 new cases in the state.
After days of lower testing numbers, more than 60,000 were completed in the last 24 hours.
3,238 people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19. Dr. Mandy Cohen on Wednesday noted that the hospitalizations have been declining, but they are still higher than they should be.
With the higher number of tests recorded on Thursday, the percent positive in the state dropped to 7.9 percent.
Sampson County reports 27 new cases for a total of 6,201 positive test results. The county death count stands at 78.
South Carolina officials have detected two cases of COVID-19 that first emerged recently in South Africa and are the first of its kind in the United States.
The state’s Public Health Laboratory tested samples on Jan. 25 and Jan. 27, each identifying a case of the variant. On Wednesday, CDC officials alerted the state to a South Carolina sample that was tested at LabCorp and determined to be the B.1.351 variant originally identified in South Africa.
There is no known travel history and no connection between the two cases. Both cases were found in adults in different parts of the state.
“The arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 variant in our state is an important reminder to all South Carolinians that the fight against this deadly virus is far from over,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Interim Public Health Director. “While more COVID-19 vaccines are on the way, supplies are still limited. Every one of us must recommit to the fight by recognizing that we are all on the front lines now. We are all in this together.”
THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
A World Health Organization team has emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. They were required to complete a 14-day quarantine after arriving in China.
The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.
There have been more than 100,971,000 global cases of COVID-19 according to Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has experienced the most deaths with 429,214 as of 7 a.m.
The Town of Carrboro wants residents to provide comment on a draft plan for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and other disruptions. The comment period ends Friday, Jan. 29.
The draft Orange County Long-Term Recovery and Transformation Plan is available here.
The public comment form is available here.
In alignment with the state of North Carolina’s January 27 extension of the Modified Stay at Home Order, the Town of Morrisville is continuing additional safety precautions and changes to its daily operations, through at least February 28.
The following changes to Town of Morrisville operations will be in place through February 28: Town of Morrisville offices will be closed to the public; Town Council meetings (and the February 11 Planning & Zoning Board meeting) will be virtual.
The Morrisville Aquatics & Fitness Center and Cedar Fork Community Center will be closed until at least February 12. No outdoor classes will be conducted, but virtual programming will be available (parks, greenways, tennis courts and the Healthy Food Hub will remain open).
“While the Town of Morrisville continues to have relatively low COVID-19 infection rates, it’s not time to ease all restrictions and let our guard down just yet,” said Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley. “The best way to protect yourself and others is to stay vigilant in adherence of the three Ws- wearing a face covering, waiting six feet apart (avoiding close contact) and washing your hands often.”
Town staff will continue to work mostly remotely, with a limited number of employees in Town buildings.
The Halifax County Health Department reports 34 new cases for a total of 4,112 total positive COVID 19 cases. Six additional deaths were reported, bringing the county’s total to 80 — 1.95% of cases.
Beginning Wednesday, a provider from the COVID-19 team will be reaching out to eligible candidates for the second dose and will set up an individual appointment.
Halifax County has used all available first-dose vaccines this week and will schedule vaccines for next week after they know what their allocation of vaccine will be.
Halifax Community College has requested that no pets be allowed on the campus while visiting for vaccination purposes.
Please wait two weeks from last vaccination of any kind before receiving the COVID 19 vaccine.
“We are encouraged to see that our COVID numbers have stabilized in recent days, which is good,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference on Wednesday. “But the reality is that they are still high, and that too many people are still falling seriously ill and dying. The virus is still raging through our communities.”
He also addressed the vaccine shortage in the country.
“I know this is a maddening and frustrating time for many of you,” he said. “Hundreds of thousands of you have had success in getting vaccinated, but many more of you haven’t been able to get appointments or have been put on waiting lists.”
Cooper said things will get better as providers in North Carolina receive more from the federal government.
In the meantime, he said, it’s important to keep practicing the 3 Ws.
As far as the COVID-19 metrics go in the state, Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said cases are still too high but have been decreasing since a peak on January 10.
The earliest detection mechanism of visits to the ER are decreasing but above levels early in pandemic, she said.
Hospitalizations have also decreased but are still well above where we need to be.
“The overall takeaway is that we are past the spike from the winter holidays but we are still experiencing worrisome levels of virus,” she said.
Gov. Roy Cooper is extending the current modified Stay-At-Home order until Feb. 28, he announced on Wednesday, and plans to keep the eviction moratorium and statewide order allowing to-go mixed drinks sales in place through March.
The Sampson County Health Department is reporting 42 new cases for a total of 6,174 positive COVID-19 cases.
The county death toll from COVID-19 remains at 78.
The health department has scheduled a drive-thru vaccination clinic for February 10. The morning portion of the clinic is specifically reserved for second doses for those persons who received vaccines at the January 13 drive thru event held for those 75 and older. The event will be at the Sampson County Expo Center at 414 Warsaw Road in Clinton.
Last names begin with A-H – arrive at 8 a.m.; last names begin with I-P – arrive at 9 a.m.; last names begin with Q-Z – arrive at 10 a.m.
Please bring the vaccination card you were provided when you received your first dose.
If vaccine supply allows, the afternoon (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) will be open for eligible persons (healthcare workers and those 65 and older who have not had any vaccine with 14 days of the event.
If you want to come to the drive-thru event, but do not have transportation, please call Sampson Area Transportation at (910) 2990127. The ride is free but limited to the vaccine event location and return trip.
White House Coronavirus Coordinator Jeff Zients is saying in the Biden administration’s first formal briefing on the pandemic that officials will always hew to the science and level with the public.
Rochelle Walensky, the new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says her agency’s latest forecast indicates the U.S. will record between 479,000 to 514,000 deaths by Feb. 20.
Zients says the federal Department of Health and Human Services is acting Wednesday to make more professionals available to administer vaccinations. The government will authorize nurses and doctors who have retired to administer vaccines, and professionals licensed in one state will be able to administer shots in other states. Such measures are fairly standard in health emergencies.
The U.S. leads the world with 25.4 million confirmed cases and more than 425,000 deaths.
North Carolina health officials are reporting 5,587 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total since March to 733,010.
With 97 percent of North Carolina hospitals reporting, 3,305 people are being hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down 63 from Tuesday. There are 398 confirmed COVID-19 patients admitted in the past 24 hours.
NCDHHS said there are 398 empty ICU beds and 4,753 empty inpatient beds.
In North Carolina, 8,915 people have died from the virus as of Wednesday. That is 139 more since Tuesday.
The state’s percent positive rate of tests is 11.1%, which is down slightly from Tuesday’s 13.3%.
WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES
North Carolina will receive its first federal shipment of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday. The 120,000 doses of the vaccine the state receives each week will be less than what’s been made available so far from the state’s supply.
Gov. Roy Cooper will speak Wednesday afternoon along with the state’s COVID-19 task force. Cooper is expected to answer questions about the state’s vaccine supply. North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen has said the state is finished giving out its backlog of shots.
Gov. Cooper is scheduled to speak at 2 p.m. The briefing will be carried live on ABC11 and abc11.com and on the free ABC11 North Carolina Streaming App.
A driver-thru vaccination clinic at Galot Motorsports Parks on NC 242 in Dunn will begin at 10 a.m. today and continue as long as supplies last. The clinic is for healthcare workers and adults 65 and older. You don’t have to register, but you will need to bring a form of ID.
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