NC coronavirus update April 5: COVID 19 vaccine soon open to all in NC, as US health experts warn of 4th wave

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

6:25 a.m.
Children are now getting and transmitting COVID-19 at a higher rate than previously thought.

That is being blamed on a spreading variant of the virus that was first identified in the United Kingdom.

The B.1.1.7 variant has already caused problems in schools in Minnesota and sent more children to the hospital in Michigan.

One epidemiologist said it’s time to rethink previous guidance about children going back to school.

MONDAY MORNING HEADLINES

This is a big week in the push to return to normal after more than a year dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some Wake County students in 6-12th grade head back to classrooms full-time. On Thursday, all students on the traditional calendar return to the classroom.

This comes as North Carolina is set to make COVID-19 vaccines available to anybody over the age of 16. That is scheduled to happen Wednesday.

A brand new mass vaccination clinic opens in Northeast Raleigh today. Wake County Health Department is turning a location that has performed free COVID-19 testing into a place to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

The location at 5809 Departure Drive has conducted more than 70,000 COVID-19 tests in the last five months. Now, it will pivot to vaccinating people against the virus it had been testing for.

The testing clinic will move across the street to the parking lot of Vision Church RDU

At the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds, anyone 16 or older will be able to get their shot starting Tuesday–one day earlier than the rest of North Carolina.

You still must make an appointment online to get vaccinated.

All of this comes as health experts across the country warn that America could be on the brink of a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.

“If we don’t control covid-19, that gives the virus opportunities for new mutations to arise,” Dr. Douglas Golenbock said. “Now is not the time to let our guard down.”

With increased travel and relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, many states are reporting an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

“We’re just at the beginning of this surge. We haven’t even begun to see it yet,” epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm said.

LAST WEEK
The Lee County Government Health Department reported that a county resident has died of COVID-19 related complications. This raises the total number of COVID-19 deaths confirmed in Lee County to 75 since the first case was reported last March.

“Please keep the family and friends of the individual in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time and join us in offering our condolences for the loss of a loved one,” said Heath Cain, Director of the Lee County Health Department. “This is a sad reminder that COVID-19 is a serious illness that causes a significant number of those infected to become seriously ill. We ask everyone to consider getting vaccinated to protect yourself against COVID-19.”

Vaccinations remain the strongest defense against the virus and everyone who is eligible is strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. The Lee County Health Department is now accepting registrations for the COVID-19 vaccine from Groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the NCDHHS vaccine rollout plan. This means anyone 18 and older (16 and older for Pfizer) is eligible to register for the vaccine.

To register for the COVID-19 vaccine, people may call (919) 842-5744 or to register in Spanish, (919) 718-4640 option 8. Calls will be accepted Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

3 p.m.
The General Assembly gave unanimous approval to the “Summer Learning Choice for Families”, also known as House Bill 82, which would require school districts to offer six weeks of learning recovery and enrichment after the school year ends.

The bill aims to “mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on at-risk students and to require the implementation of innovative benchmark assessments.

For students in kindergarten through third-grade, in-person instruction would focus on reading and math. There would be more focused science instruction for third-grade students. Students in fourth through eighth grade, in-person instruction would focus on reading, math and science as well as at least one enrichment activity.

The bill is now headed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk.

1 p.m.
2,027 new COVID-19 cases were reported by NCDHHS on Thursday.

985 people are currently hospitalized in the state with COVID-19.

113 confirmed patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.

The percent of positive tests in North Carolina is at 4.4.

18.3 percent of the total population of the state is fully vaccinated.

5:10 a.m.
Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre is reopening.

Scheduled events at the entertainment venue start today with the WakeMed Movies by Moonlight.

Koka Booth Amphitheatre will open with reduced capacity and pod seating. You will also be required to wear a mask and remain socially distant from other groups.

Get more information here.

THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
The deadline to decide if students will return to class or remain in virtual academy has arrived in Wake County.

Some students have been coping with virtual learning for more than a year, but this month they will all have the opportunity to return to full classrooms.

Parents of students in Wake County Public School System have no more time to weigh the options. They can finish the year in virtual academy or slide back into daily in-person learning. WCPSS said classrooms should be opened by April 19.

RELATED | UNC psychiatrist provides tips on how to to reenter a post-COVID world

Meanwhile, this is the first week in over a year that all areas of state parks are open.

Many of the trails at state parks have been open, but now the full resources are available for use.

“It was a really difficult time because not only were we trying to protect visitors but we’re also trying to protect staff,” State Parks Superintendent Jay Greenwood said.

This comes as the vaccine rollout continues on. North Carolina expects to receive 547,000 COVID-19 doses this week. That includes 168,000 Pfizer first doses, 91,000 Moderna first doses, and 59,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson.

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