We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
More than 460 new cases reported
At least 1,007,273 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 13,246 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 464 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down from 544 reported the day before.
Sixteen additional deaths were also reported. Deaths don’t necessarily occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 548 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Thursday.
As of Thursday, 1.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 54% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and about 50% are fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, the latest date for which data is available. The state health department rounds vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
Governor’s executive order expires Friday
Gov. Roy Cooper will announce a new executive order Friday concerning the state of emergency and COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina — the same day his previous order is slated to expire.
The governor did not provide any details during a news conference Thursday. Most statewide restrictions have already been lifted, The News & Observer reported, but masks are still required in some indoor settings, such as schools and health care sites.
“The state of emergency is allowing us to draw down federal funds,” Cooper said. “It’s allowing us to waive state and local regulations to be able to get vaccines to these people faster, so it’s an important part of getting this pandemic behind us.”
Cooper plans cash drawing for vaccinated residents
Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday announced a cash drawing for residents who get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Anyone over 18 who gets the vaccine or who already got it will be automatically entered into a drawing for $1 million, The News & Observer reported. The prize will be given to four people drawn every two weeks for a duration of eight weeks.
Teenagers will also be eligible to win $125,000 in college scholarships on certain dates.
Cooper announced the new incentive program at a news conference after receiving approval from the Council of State.
“In North Carolina, we still have around two and a half million adults who are not vaccinated,” he said. “Even if your name is not drawn, the worst you’ll do is get protected from a deadly virus.”
The lottery follows another incentive program that gave people in four North Carolina counties $25 gift cards at certain vaccine clinics. Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said it has proved effective, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“All of our clinics where we’ve had cash cards available over the past week have seen significant increases,” she said.
Answers to questions about eligibility, drawings and other incentive programs can be found here.
COVID vaccine myths slow vaccination rate
Medical experts say misinformation is contributing to vaccine hesitancy as rates drop in North Carolina, where 54% of adults are at least partially vaccinated.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there,” Dr. David Wohl, infectious disease expert at UNC, told The News & Observer. “I think that’s getting in the way.”
Those myths include impacts on teen development, infertility and life insurance as well as the belief that the vaccine will turn you into a magnet. The N&O debunks those theories here with tips on how to respond to people citing misinformation.
Rent help remains for Charlotte residents
At least $11 million in rent and utility assistance is still available for Charlotte residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
RAMPCLT, the local rent, utility and mortgage assistance program, will accept applications for June through Tuesday. The application period will reopen again from July 1 to 15, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Charlotte residents who have experienced a pandemic-related income reduction or financial hardship can apply at rampclt.com or call 980-406-7509. Tenants or landlords can start the process.
North Carolina not on track to meet Biden’s vaccination goal
North Carolina is not on pace to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of 70% COVID-19 vaccination by July 4, The News & Observer reported based on data from The New York Times.
The state wouldn’t reach that mark until November at its current rate.
In North Carolina, 54% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine — behind the national rate of 63%.
The state health department said in a statement to The N&O that it still wants to “reach our goal of two-thirds of North Carolinians 18 and older with at least one vaccine dose.”
“That’s when we believe we will have enough protection across our communities to be able to live more safely with this virus,” the statement said. “Similar to other states, we’ve seen a drop in demand and DHHS continues to study the most effective strategies to encourage people to get their shot.”
Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC, told The N&O that he doesn’t expect North Carolina to meet Biden’s goal but that every vaccine matters.
“This is not an all-or-none type of situation,” Wohl said. “Every percent increase in vaccination rate translates into less people dying. It really does.”