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FRIDAY MORNING STORYLINES
The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed to more people in North Carolina.
Duke Health is now allowing people 75 and older to get the shot. You do not need to be a Duke Health patient. If you’re interested in setting up an appointment, call 919-385-0429 sometime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Meanwhile in Cumberland County, the county’s health department is hosting a public vaccination clinic Friday morning.
About 300 vaccinations will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis to people 75 and older. The clinic is set to open at 9 a.m.
Wake County remains in the first vaccination phase–trying to inoculate frontline healthcare officials.
A clinical liaison for the Wake County Health Department said that is because the county has many more people who fall in Phase 1A than other parts of North Carolina.
Durham County likewise has not moved into Phase 1B yet. County officials hope to do some sometime next week.
Johns Hopkins University reports 3,865 people died from COVID-19 in the United States on Wednesday. That’s the highest single-day death toll to date, breaking the record set just a day prior.
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said ongoing upticks in deaths, hospitalizations and cases will likely continue through January.
“As we get into the next couple of weeks in January, that likely will be a reflection of the holiday season travel and the congregate settings that usually take place socially during that period of time,” Fauci said.
He went on to say he hoped increased public health measures in place during the holidays will prove to have been effective, but it’s unclear yet if people followed those guidelines strictly.
Unfortunately, he admitted, “things will get worse as we get into January.”
The Durham Public School Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to stay with Plan C for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz sent the below message to campus announcing modifications to the spring 2021 semester.
“With record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina and around the country, we are making adjustments to our spring semester to provide as much flexibility as possible for a safe return to campus. We are making these changes with the health of our campus and the community in mind,” Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s spring 2021 semester start date remains January 19.
All undergraduate classes will now be remote for the first three weeks of the semester. Only a limited number of undergraduate courses were planned to be in person.
The limited number of students who will live on campus also will have more flexibility on when they can move back to campus: on-campus residents have the option to move in to their single-occupancy housing starting January 13 or delaying their move through February 7.
For the first time ever, North Carolina is reporting more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period.
On Thursday, the state added 10,398 new cases of the virus. However, the daily percent positive rate did drop from over 16% to 13.5%. That, of course, means the state received a significant uptick in tests completed.
The previous single-day record for cases was 9,527, which happened on New Year’s Day.
Thursday’s metrics also showed a steep increase in COVID-19 deaths. Another 137 people succumbed to the virus, increasing its total death toll in North Carolina to 7,213.
Hospitalizations also increased (setting yet another record) from 3,893 in yesterday’s report to 3,960 in today’s report.
“North Carolina has set a new one-day record with nearly 10,400 new cases,” Gov. Cooper said in a tweet Thursday. “These numbers paint a dark picture – COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across our state. We’re at a critical point in our fight against this virus and all need to take responsibility for our own actions.”
THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES
A drive-up vaccine clinic in Concord had to shut down early after long lines and traffic backups led to health officials running out of their allotted supply of the vaccine. The drive-up clinic at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center drew so many cars, Highway 49 had to be temporarily shut down, according to WSOC.
The clinic was scheduled to last until 4 p.m. but instead closed at noon. A COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Goldsboro also ran out of available doses for the day after opening early due to high demand.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has extended the statewide curfew but added no new restrictions on businesses or individuals.
Several counties in the state have begun vaccinating adults 75 years or older. Public health officials are warning that demand is outpacing supply and will continue to be that way in the coming weeks. Hospital workers that have come into frequent contact with COVID-19 were prioritized first. The state hopes education will help boost vaccine participation among workers in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes.
North Carolina’s new chief justice says he’s asked Gov. Roy Cooper to consider getting COVID-19 vaccines more quickly to local court officials to meet a requirement to keep the courts open. Chief Justice Paul Newby made the remark at Wednesday’s online installation ceremony for himself and two new justices. Court activities in all 100 counties have been dramatically scaled back since the pandemic began.
Health officials said more than 137,000 people have been vaccinated in North Carolina. That is less than 30 percent of the doses of the vaccine that the state has received.
The state also revealed an updated COVID-19 map Wednesday. The new map shows 96 counties have either critical or significant community spread of COVID-19. That is up from 92 counties two weeks ago.
The United States set a record for the most deaths in a single day Wednesday. This is the second day in a row that the country set a death record.
On Wednesday, 3,865 people died from COVID-19, according to a real-time count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to work from home, but there are signs that office life will continue in North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Our Newsgathering partners at The News & Observer reported Wednesday that some tech firms are planning new offices in the region despite the recent trend of working from home. Pendo and Bandwidth are also going full-speed ahead with their new headquarters.
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