We’re tracking information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back every Wednesday for updates.
More than 27,000 new coronavirus cases
At least 27,636 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, up from 23,807 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 636 new weekly hospital patient admissions, an increase from 524 the week before, according to data through May 21, the most recent metrics available.
The figures were released Wednesday, May 25, the 10th week that health officials have adjusted information shared on their coronavirus dashboard and published weekly COVID-19 data. The data had previously been released almost every day.
Roughly 77% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 72% are fully vaccinated. Of the state’s total population, about 62% are fully vaccinated and about 66% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
More than 3.5 million ”additional/booster” doses have been administered in North Carolina as of May 18, the health department said. Health officials have urged those who are eligible to get boosted, as data shows it offers increased protection against the omicron coronavirus variant.
Across the state, virtually all new COVID-19 cases were attributed to the omicron variant and its related “lineages” in the two weeks leading up to May 7, the latest time period for which data is available.
Pandemic left some NC kids more than a year behind in school, report says
Pandemic-related learning loss has left several North Carolina students months behind in reading and math, a new report finds.
Some kids are more than one school year behind in those areas, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Data shows “elementary and middle school students ended last school year 2.25 months to 7.75 months behind how they should have been doing on state reading exams. The gap was even wider on state math exams, with students in several grade levels ending the 2020-21 school year more than one school year behind academically,” The News & Observer reported on May 25.
Thomas Kane, a Harvard University professor, has suggested extending the school year and helped to write a national report that found gaps in the remote instruction given at schools with different poverty levels.
“I think most districts are going to discover that the interventions they are planning are nowhere close to sufficient, especially if it was a district that was remote for half a year or more last year,” Kane said.
How to get children’s booster shots in Charlotte
With more children now eligible to get booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, several Charlotte providers are offering the additional doses.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department said it is offering the shots at its locations on Billingsley and Beatties Ford roads. Some CVS Pharmacy locations will also have the boosters available for families, who are urged to make appointments, The Charlotte Observer reported May 23.
The sites are providing the shots after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in an emergency authorization made children ages 5 to 11 eligible to receive booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine. The company said kids should get the additional shots at least five months after getting their second vaccine dose.
COVID cases on the rise in NC
North Carolina is again seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
Dr. David Wohl said it’s not surprising that infections would surge as the virus is becoming more transmissible and some people are going in public without face masks.
“We just have to, as a society, decide what we’re willing to tolerate,” said Wohl, an infectious disease expert. “Right now people are very clearly voting with their masks, that they are willing to tolerate the current numbers of cases and that they’re willing to tolerate the hospitalizations and deaths that are occurring.”
Though some case metrics are up, hospitalizations and deaths are lower than at other times during the pandemic. For example, the state health department reported 12 coronavirus-related deaths last week, which is near a low point.
Meanwhile, UNC Health is seeing about 10% of coronavirus patients in intensive care, compared to 15 to 20% during the winter, The News & Observer reported on May 19. At that time, Wake County had the state’s highest rate of new infections: 811 per 100,000.
Officials have urged those eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.
McCrory tests positive after losing Senate bid
Pat McCrory, a former North Carolina governor and Charlotte mayor, said he tested positive for COVID-19 one day after he lost a Republican primary for federal office.
“Thanks for so many kind notes from friends and supporters since Tuesday,” he wrote May 19 on Twitter. “Have not been as responsive because I got diagnosed with Covid yesterday. It’s no fun!”
On the night that McCrory lost to fellow U.S. Senate hopeful Ted Budd, a group of more than a dozen people gathered for a watch party. Most weren’t wearing face masks, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Though reporters gathered around McCrory, his podium was several feet from event attendees. Health officials urge anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 to get tested.