COVID-19 Novel CoronavirusInformation For Citizens & Visitors to North Carolina
August 10 - COVID-19 Hospitalizations Hitting All-Time Highs; Health Officials Urge Vaccination
North Carolina experienced the largest single day jump in hospital ICU admissions since the beginning of the pandemic. Weekly COVID-19 hospitalizations among people ages 20-49 are at an all-time high.
ICU admissions related to COVID-19 jumped to 557 yesterday from 502 the day prior. From Aug. 3 through Aug. 9, there were 547 people ages 20-49 admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19. Overall, 2,179 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 272 people admitted in the past 24 hours, according to data reported to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
"These high-levels of COVID-related admissions jeopardize the ability of our hospitals to provide needed care in our communities," said Kody H. Kinsley, Chief Deputy Secretary for Health at NCDHHS. "The vast majority of our COVID-19 hospitalizations are in unvaccinated people. This underscores the need for everyone to be vaccinated against the virus and use preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19."
Dr. Eric Eskioglu, Novant Health’s chief medical and scientific officer, said the health system is on track to match or exceed the surge of COVID-19 cases they saw in their hospitals in January.
"Unfortunately, we have more than a 1,000% increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions today compared to just three weeks ago,” he said. “The average age of hospitalized COVID-19 patients is also 44, down from 61 in January. More than 90% of patients hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated and they are sicker than the patients we saw during earlier surges. Entire families are presenting in our emergency rooms for COVID testing. This surge is still preventable. I urge and plead with everyone to get vaccinated now."
Due to the highly contagious Delta variant, North Carolina’s other key COVID-19 metrics are also increasing, including the percent of tests that are positive — which has been over 10% for the past week. There have been 31,036 cases reported over the past seven days compared to 19,911 cases in the preceding seven days — a 56% increase — and hospitalizations have more than doubled since July 27 and are at the highest they have been since Feb. 11, 2021.In addition, the CDC’s Community Transmission Map shows nearly all North Carolina counties are experiencing substantial to high community transmission.
In addition to getting vaccinated, NCDHHS recommends everyone wear a mask in indoor public spaces if you live in area of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. In North Carolina that is now 98 of 100 counties.
To find a vaccine in your area, use the Find a Vaccine Location tool at MySpot.nc.gov or call 888-675-4567. You can also text your zip code to 438829 to find vaccine locations near you.
July 29 - North Carolina to Require Vaccine Verification for State Employees, Urges Other Government Agencies and Private Employers to do the Same
Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. announced that state government would begin verifying vaccination status of its workers. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week. Today’s announcement comes as North Carolina’s latest upswing in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is driven by unvaccinated North Carolinians.
“Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” said Governor Cooper.
NCDHHS updated guidance encourages private sector businesses to, at a minimum, verify vaccination status for their workers as well. The requirement for state government employees applies to cabinet agencies and is included in Executive Order 224.
“There is only one way out of this pandemic and that is vaccination. Our trends are accelerating at an alarmingly fast rate and the highest rates of viral spread are happening in areas with low vaccination rates and among those who are not fully vaccinated,” said Secretary Cohen. “If you are already vaccinated, I call on you to urge your unvaccinated family and friends to get their shot now. It is not an understatement to say that you will save lives by doing so.”
The NCDHHS updated guidance reminds unvaccinated people that they need to continue practicing the three Ws – wear a mask in all indoor public settings, wait six feet apart in all public settings and wash hands often. In addition, unvaccinated people should not gather with other unvaccinated people who do not live with them. If they do, they should stay outside and keep 6 feet of distance. In addition, unvaccinated people should not travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new mask guidance this week based on levels of transmission in communities. The new maps designate counties as areas of low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) or high (red) transmission. Moving forward, everyone in a red or orange county in North Carolina, including those who have been vaccinated, should wear a mask in public indoor settings.
Additionally, in accordance with the updated CDC guidance, all K-12 schools should require universal masking, regardless of vaccination status. NCDHHS is updating its guidance for schools to align with this recommendation.
To date, North Carolina has administered nearly 9.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 57 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. 61 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 86 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.
June 11 Update - Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order Extending Pandemic Response Measures
Today Governor Roy Cooper announced that he signed an Executive Order to extend a variety of measures currently in place to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic until July 30.
“We are seeing tremendous improvement with fewer cases, hospitalizations, deaths and safety restrictions, but this is no time to hang up a “Mission Accomplished” banner in our fight against the pandemic,” said Gov. Cooper. “We are laser focused on getting more shots in arms, boosting our economy and protecting unvaccinated people from the virus and this Executive Order is essential for those efforts.”
Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Cooper has issued executive orders to protect North Carolinians from COVID-19, increase access to testing and vaccine supplies, PPE and other equipment, and draw down federal funds. While the Governor has consistently eased restrictions as trends have improved, a State of Emergency remains in effect as North Carolina emerges from the pandemic, along with measures including:
- State Evictions Prohibitions
- Face covering requirements in certain settings such as public transportation, schools, health care and childcare facilities, in accordance with CDC guidance
- Unemployment Insurance flexibility
Under the State of Emergency, North Carolina has easier access to federal funding including FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements, and schools can follow uniform safety guidance under the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.
The State of Emergency also allows critical regulatory flexibility for the NC Department of Health and Human Services to increase the number of people authorized to administer vaccines and COVID-19 tests and for the movement of COVID-19 patients in rehab and other facilities.
Under the State of Emergency, NC DHHS continues to allow temporary additional flexibility for tele-health opportunities and for out-of-state licensed workers to practice in North Carolina and for retired health care professionals, students in training and skilled volunteers to provide care. The Department also continues to allow expanded access to healthcare and Medicaid services and food and nutrition programs until the end of the State of Emergency.
The state’s vaccination efforts and incentive programs are also organized using tools made available by the State of Emergency including the million dollar summer cash and college tuition drawings the will incentivize people to get their shots.
North Carolina’s vaccine efforts have benefitted from the service of North Carolina National Guard Personnel, who, under an Executive Order from President Biden, can be paid with federal funds if called to duty as part of the pandemic response under Governor Cooper’s existing emergency order. North Carolina National Guard personnel remain critical partners in the state’s response, currently providing vaccination and administrative support as well as continuing to support the NC Department of Agriculture with food warehouse operations as supply chain tensions ease and distribute 2.4 million pounds of food to food banks across North Carolina.
The Governor and state health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s trends and review actions of other states and plan to continue lifting restrictions as more people are vaccinated and the state winds down pandemic response efforts.
June 10 Update - Your Shot at a Million: Governor Cooper Announces $4 Million Summer Cash and College Tuition Drawings to Encourage COVID-19 Vaccinations
Four North Carolinians 18 and Older to Win $1 Million; Four North Carolinians 12 to 17 to Win $125,000 for Post-Secondary Education
As part of North Carolina’s effort to encourage more North Carolinians to receive COVID-19 vaccines, Governor Roy Cooper announced $4 Million Summer Cash and College Tuition drawings to motivate those who have not yet been vaccinated — and thank those who have. Four vaccinated North Carolinians 18 and older will win $1 million each and four North Carolinians ages 12 to 17 will win tuition for post-secondary education. Executive Order 219, which has concurrence from the North Carolina Council of State, authorizes the drawings.
North Carolinians 18 and over who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings for a chance to win a $1 million cash prize. Youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be automatically entered into four drawings to win $125,000 towards post-secondary education. The $125,000 can be used at any post-secondary institution and is awarded in the form of a NC 529 account.
“This is your shot at a million. Regardless of who wins, there’s no way to lose,” said Governor Cooper. “A chance at a million dollars is pretty good motivation. But even if your name isn’t drawn, the worst you’ll do is get strong protection from a deadly virus.”
The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College Drawings will run from June 23 through Aug. 4. All North Carolina residents 12 and older who have been vaccinated with at least one dose are eligible, some restrictions may apply. Those vaccinated on or after today’s announcement, June 10, will be entered twice for each drawing increasing the chance of winning for the newly vaccinated. Drawings will take place every other week on Wednesdays with the first drawing on June 23. New entries will close at midnight on the Sunday prior to the Wednesday drawing. Winners will be verified and then announced.
“Everyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccination is a winner,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “They protect themselves, their loved ones and others from severe illness, hospitalization and death. Millions of people have already taken the vaccines. These summer cash drawings add another reward to the many that come with getting a COVID-19 vaccination.”
The drawings are part of the state’s Bringing Summer Back get-out-the-vaccine campaign to increase awareness of the availability and safety of COVID-19 vaccines and encourage North Carolinians to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they can. The vaccines have been thoroughly tested and found to be safe and effective for anyone 12 and older.
North Carolina joins other states that announced million-dollar drawings to promote vaccinations. Ohio, the first state to launch such a program, reported a 28 percent increase in vaccinations among those 16 and older in the first two weeks following the announcement.
The $4 Million Summer Cash and Summer Cash 4 College drawings will use federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to fund the program. The drawings will be supported by the North Carolina State Lottery Director. The scholarship funds will be managed by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority. Learn more at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash.
May 14 Update - Following New CDC Guidance on Face Coverings, Governor Cooper Lifts Many COVID-19 Restrictions
State lifts gathering limits, social distancing requirements in all settings and indoor mask mandate for most settings
Following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, Gov. Cooper and Secretary Cohen announced that North Carolina will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. These changes are now in effect as of 1:30 p.m. today.
Masks will still be required in child care, schools and camps as most children are either not yet vaccinated or are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. Everyone, including people who are fully vaccinated, will still be required to wear a mask in certain settings such as public transportation, health care settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices and long-term care settings like nursing homes, and certain congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters. NCDHHS will continue to have strong public health recommendations for individuals to continue to protect one another until more people are vaccinated. People who are not vaccinated should wear a mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they can't maintain six feet of distance.
January 21 - NCDOT and NCDHHS Announce Solution to Help Fund Transit Rides to and from COVID-19 Vaccine Sites
Today, the NC Department of Transportation and the NC Department of Health and Human Services announced that approximately $2.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funding is being distributed to local transit agencies across the state to help pay for rides for individuals who need transportation assistance to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
"Every North Carolinian has a spot and needs to get their shot," said Governor Roy Cooper. "As vaccine supply increases, we are deploying every resource to make sure people have access and are not held back by barriers like lack of transportation."
Each local transit agency will receive a set amount of funding, and the initiative will continue until funds are exhausted for that agency. The funds can be used to offset operating costs associated with transit rides to and from vaccination sites for people who are receiving or assisting someone in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is everybody’s business and every organization has something they can do to help,” said DOT Secretary J. Eric Boyette. “We are committed to doing everything we can to help get North Carolinians vaccinated as quickly and easily as possible.”
“Partnerships like this are crucial to make it possible for everyone to be able to take their shot when it’s their spot,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD.
People who need transportation assistance to a COVID-19 vaccine should reach out to their local transit agency. You can find your local transit agency online at NC_public_transit.pdf (ncdot.gov). Local transit agencies serve all 100 North Carolina counties.
Some vaccine locations are providing the vaccine by appointment only. For a list of vaccine providers by county, visit YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available per the state’s rollout plan and free of charge, regardless of access to health insurance or legal status. As the vaccine rollout moves to next phases, those within earlier prioritization groups will remain eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine prioritization is designed to save lives and prevent spread while vaccine supplies are limited. Everyone has a spot, and you can find yours at YourSpotYourShot.nc.gov.
All North Carolinians should get the latest information on COVID-19 directly from reliable sources. The COVID-19 outbreak has been accompanied by a flood of misinformation from unreliable sources. Be thoughtful about what you read or hear about the virus and make sure you are separating rumor from fact before you act. COVID-19 information from across state government, including information about unemployment, can be found at www.nc.gov/covid19.
State of NC Launches New COVID-19 Web Portal
The State of North Carolina has launched a new COVID-19 web portal at nc.gov/covid19 in an effort to gather all the COVID-19 related information from a wide range of State agencies. The existing DHHS site at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus will remain, and its content is accessible from the new site.