We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Death toll nears 18,000
At least 1,472,655 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 17,935 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday reported 2,160 new COVID-19 cases, up from 1,340 on Tuesday.
There were 47 additional coronavirus-related deaths reported Wednesday. Health officials don’t specify the specific dates for the newly reported deaths.
At least 1,406 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 415 adults who are patients in intensive care units, health officials said.
On Monday, the latest date with available information, 5.3% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 71% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 67% have been fully vaccinated. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
NC school district cancels Thanksgiving week classes
The Johnston County school board voted to cancel classes on Nov. 12, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 to give families and teachers time to “decompress.”
The move comes amid intense pressure and staffing shortages amid an already tumultuous school year.
“Tensions are high,” said school board member Kay Carroll. “Nerves are frayed. We’ve seen a lot has been going on with short tempers and I think it would be good idea for us to give everybody some down time.”
Cooper declares ‘good news’ as cases taper off
Gov. Roy Cooper called COVID-19 trends in the state “good news” during a news conference on Wednesday.
He said new coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations have gone down while the number of vaccinations has improved, all while more children have returned for in-person learning, The News & Observer reported.
“It’s good news,” the governor said. “Although every death is painful and now often avoidable, we’ve felt a renewed sense of hope as our COVID numbers have continued their steady improvement. People are eating at restaurants and going to concerts and ballgames again. People are traveling again. And most people are back at work, although many are doing it in a different way, or at a different job.”
Cooper also said the state is preparing to be able to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11 against the coronavirus as soon as next week.
NC officials no longer recommending mandate masks in all school districts
North Carolina health officials have stopped recommending all school districts in the state have mask requirements for workers and students in schools.
Instead, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in updated guidance recommends face masks only be required in counties that have high or substantial coronavirus spread. As of Tuesday, 98 of the state’s 100 counties were in those categories, The News & Observer reported.
“Given that our student population is largely not yet vaccinated, face (coverings) remain a critical tool for protecting children and keeping them safely in the classroom,” the state health department said. “NCDHHS recommends that schools base their mask requirements on levels of community transmission, as defined by the CDC.”
The decision comes as one Triangle-area district this week removed an outdoor mask requirement for high schoolers and eased its limit on spectators at sporting events.
The school board on Monday voted unanimously to lift the 50% capacity at athletic events and allow for concessions. Face coverings and social distancing will still be required when watching sports teams.
The Triangle-area district has started easing restrictions after mandating that students wear masks, except for 15 minutes at lunchtime. Almost 80% of high schoolers are vaccinated, and Pfizer vaccines are expected to be approved soon for kids ages 5-11.