We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
More than 5,300 new cases reported
At least 1,303,390 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 15,247 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday reported 5,346 new COVID-19 cases and added 172 coronavirus-related deaths. State health officials don’t specify the dates on which newly reported deaths occurred.
The state health department said it experienced a technical issue on Thursday that “prevented some laboratory data files from being processed in the NC COVID reporting system.”
“As a result, cases and test data are lower for Friday, Sept. 10 than they would have been had all data been processed,” the health department said. “Data reported on Monday, Sept. 13 will be higher as it will incorporate cases that were intended to be submitted on Friday, Sept. 10.”
At least 3,514 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday, the latest date for which data is available, including 894 who are being treated in intensive care units, health officials said.
As of Saturday, 11.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 67% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 62% have been fully vaccinated. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
Charlotte parents unhappy with mask exemptions
Dozens of parents with children who attend Catholic schools in the Charlotte area have filed complaints with the Mecklenburg Health Department about how school leaders are implementing the county mask mandate.
Gibbie Harris, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director, and county commissioners said at a meeting last week they have received numerous emails from concerned parents, The Charlotte Observer reported. Some are upset their child’s school is permitting exemptions to the mask requirement without a doctor’s note or medical excuse.
The head of local Catholic schools has said campuses are following the mask order and allowing exemptions in accordance with the county’s rule, The Observer reported.
“(We’ve had) conversations with several of the different principals,” Harris told commissioners at the meeting. “We continue to work with them. Some are more receptive than others — I’ll put it that way. But we do feel we have the support of the (Catholic) diocese at this point.”
More than 60 outbreaks, clusters ongoing in Triangle
Counties in the Triangle continue to report COVID-19 outbreaks and clusters sparked in part by the delta variant.
Wake County, the most populous county in the region, had 24 ongoing coronavirus outbreaks and 21 clusters as of Thursday, the latest date for which data is available, according to the state health department. In Durham County, 12 outbreaks and three clusters were ongoing. Orange County reported three ongoing outbreaks and two clusters.
The state health department defines an outbreak as two or more positive tests among staff or residents in a congregate living center and a cluster as five or more cases in a child care or school setting that can plausibly be linked together over a 14-day period.
More information on where the outbreaks and clusters were reported can be found here.
School district ends contact tracing, most quarantines
The Union County school board voted 8-1 early Monday to immediately stop COVID-19 contact tracing and significantly loosen coronavirus quarantine requirements, The Charlotte Observer reported.
The district will not require students to quarantine if they’ve been in contact with someone who is sick. Students must stay home only if they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or if they have clear symptoms of the virus. The change is effective immediately, Melissa Merrell, the board chairperson, told The Observer.
The decision goes against the advice of local health authorities and state and national recommendations for schools. Health experts have said returning to in-person school is safest if students and staff wear masks indoors and if school leaders have contact tracing and quarantine requirements in place to curb the spread of the virus.
Union County does not have a mask mandate, but masks are still required on school buses. Recently, thousands of Union County students were in a proactive quarantine after being possibly exposed at school.
Vaccine requirements for Triangle first responders
Local governments and employers have started adding COVID-19 testing and vaccine requirements for employees.
But in the Triangle, municipalities have varying requirements for first responders. Many are leaving coronavirus vaccination optional for police officers, EMTs and firefighters, while some departments require their employees to be vaccinated or tested regularly, The News & Observer reports.
A list of what different agencies throughout the Triangle require can be found here.
Julie Swann, an N.C. State University professor, told the N&O that first responders are at an inherent risk of exposure to the virus, due to interacting closely with the public, and that there are many reasons why first responders should get the shot to protect themselves and those they interact with.
“First responders do not get to completely choose with whom they interact on a given work day,” Swann said. “So they are at greater risk of being exposed to infectious or communicable diseases.”