We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Fewest new cases reported since October
At least 863,409 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 11,288 have died since March, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday reported 1,239 new COVID-19 cases, down from 1,466 reported the day before. It’s the fewest number of new cases reported in a single day since October 19.
Thirty-four coronavirus-related deaths were reported Tuesday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 1,353 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Tuesday, up from 1,319 the day before.
As of Sunday, the latest day for which data are available, 5.7% of COVID-19 tests came back positive. Health officials have said 5% is the target rate to control the spread of the virus.
More than 2.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in North Carolina.
NC marks 1 year since first COVID case
North Carolina reached a grim milestone on Wednesday, marking one year since the state’s first coronavirus case was reported.
The pandemic has impacted jobs, with layoffs affecting three times as many workers compared to the average over the past three years. While unemployment has come down from springtime highs, it stands above previous years’ levels at 6%, The News & Observer reported.
During the past year, North Carolina drivers have stayed closer to home but visited state parks at record levels. Enrollment at UNC System schools stagnated after years of welcoming more students, data show.
Check out more data here about how North Carolina has changed over the past year.
Durham schools to resume in-person learning
Durham Public Schools are set to start welcoming students back to campus this month.
The district is bringing back elementary students on March 15 and middle and high school students beginning April 8, The News & Observer reported. A motion before the local school board to have all students come back April 8 failed 4-3.
Under the district’s plan, families can opt to continue virtual learning.
The district previously had planned to offer remote classes for the entire school year.
Frontline essential workers eligible for vaccine
Frontline essential workers — including grocery store workers, public transit drivers and emergency personnel — will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine a week ahead of schedule, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday.
The state will then move into Group 4 on March 24, starting with people with high-risk underlying conditions, The News & Observer reported.
“Given the current rate of vaccination and increased supply, many frontline workers say they can move to the next phase of vaccinations,” Cooper said during a news conference
Teachers and school support staff have been able to get the vaccine since Feb. 24. The remaining frontline workers classified under Group 3 will be eligible starting Wednesday.
Wake will let more fans attend sports events
Wake County schools will let more fans attend high school sports events after the governor eased capacity restrictions last week.
Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s order, venues are allowed to operate at 30% capacity. But Wake said some events might not reach that capacity given the need for social distancing, and all indoor events will be capped at 250 fans, The News & Observer reported.
More than just immediate family members will also be allowed at games; temperature checks will be required at indoor events; fans will be required to screen themselves before entering outdoor events; and all spectators must leave within five minutes of the end of the event.
Chapel Hill warns against Franklin Street celebration if UNC beats Duke
The town of Chapel Hill said UNC fans should not rush Franklin Street if their team beats Duke this weekend.
Chapel Hill is urging people to keep safety in mind while watching the men’s basketball game scheduled for Saturday. The town is also teaming up with UNC to determine how it would respond to game-related activities or celebrations during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said in a news release.
Last month, about 1,000 people stormed onto Franklin Street after UNC beat longtime rival Duke.
“The Governor’s decision to stick to 50 people outdoors while loosening other restrictions should be a clear message about its importance,” said Kelly Drayton, emergency management coordinator for the town. “We must adhere to these public health guidelines to continue this important battle we’ve all been in for nearly a year.”
More vaccine slots to open in Charlotte area
Mecklenburg County is offering new vaccine appointment openings for an expanded group.
Frontline essential workers such as first responders and college staffers are among those eligible to start signing up as part of Group 3 of the state’s vaccine plan.
The openings will be available to those workers and other eligible groups beginning 8:30 a.m. Thursday, The Charlotte Observer reported. The appointments run March 10 to March 31.
Appointments can be made online at https://starmed.care/ or by phone at 980-314-9400.
Spectrum Center reopens for fans
The Charlotte Hornets got permission Tuesday to host about 3,000 fans at the Spectrum Center for the remaining 19 regular-season home games.
The next home game is March 13 against the Toronto Raptors, The Charlotte Observer reported. Fans with season tickets will get first dibs on seats before they go on sale to the general public starting at 10 a.m. Friday.