We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
Cases surpass 980,000
At least 980,498 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 12,780 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 1,932 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, up from 1,798 the day before.
Forty-two additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.
At least 1,006 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, down from 1,031 on Thursday.
As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 4.4% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Some schools still require masks outdoors
Some schools in the Triangle will still require masks to be worn outdoors after North Carolina health officials pulled back the rule.
Schools in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham have mandated face coverings be worn outside during school hours, citing health and safety reasons, The News & Observer reported.
“Social distancing tends to be less common during recess,” Jeff Nash, a spokesman for the Chapel HIll-Carrboro school system, said in an email Friday. “Our team thought it would be a good idea to continue wearing masks during recess.”
Wake, Johnston and Chatham counties recently made outdoor face mask use optional.
Durham to give out $9.6 million in rent relief
Durham County will open applications for $9.6 million in COVID-19 rent relief on Monday, but one county officials said it won’t be enough.
Ben Rose, director of the Durham County Department of Social Services, told The News & Observer the estimated need is $40 million.
“We have to be honest. It’s going to be a race,” he said. “It will definitely not be covered nearly to need. Durham had a housing crisis before the pandemic, and it’s been made even worse with the pandemic.”
The $9.6 million rent relief program is funded by federal coronavirus stimulus money from December and is a partnership between the county and city.
Durham County expects to get another $9 million from that December stimulus, Rose said, but it’s currently tied up in the state.
Popular music venue plans to reopen in Charlotte
The Neighborhood Theatre in NoDa announced it will reopen next month after shutting down for more than a year during the coronavirus pandemic.
The venue’s first show will be Grammy winner Graham Sharp, the banjo player for Steep Canyon Ranger, on June 17, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“For the first time in a long time I’m feeling optimistic,” said Gregg McCraw, owner of MaxxMusic, which operates the Neighborhood Theatre.
Charlotte-area provider to start vaccine trial for kids
A North Carolina health care provider is opening a COVID-19 vaccine trial for children and teenagers.
Atrium Health said enrollment in the clinical trial for the Novavax vaccine is open until May 21. It’s open to children ages 12 to 17.
Study participants are expected to be given blood tests and nose swabs over the course of two years, The Charlotte Observer reported Friday. Officials said families will also receive stipends, though the amount wasn’t revealed.
To register, parents or guardians can visit https://atriumhealth.org/about-us/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-trial.
Bill would ban vaccine mandate, which Cooper hasn’t suggested
Some Republican state lawmakers hope to prevent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from mandating COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina, though the governor hasn’t suggested he would do so.
“House Bill 572 started off as a bill to prevent franchise companies from requiring their franchise owners to have personal protective equipment — such as face masks — that exceed requirements in state law,” The News & Observer reported Friday.
But a new version of the bill calls for banning the governor from making vaccinations mandatory and penalizing people who aren’t vaccinated. It passed both the House Health and Rules committees on Thursday.
It’s expected to go to the House floor on Monday for a vote.
“The governor has no say in what I put in my body,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Republican. “It’s all about freedom, people.”
During the pandemic, Cooper has urged people to get vaccinated but never suggested an order that would make the shots a requirement.