Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen shared an update Wednesday on North Carolina’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support the vaccination effort currently underway.
Cooper extended North Carolina’s Modified Stay-At-Home Order that requires people to be at home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to last through at least Friday, January 29. Cohen also issued a Secretarial Directive with stark warnings for North Carolinians to avoid indoor spaces without masks and gatherings between households. Read HERE for more details on the Secretarial Directive.
“We have turned the page on a new year – one that we’re hoping will bring better times. But as we know, the virus didn’t disappear at midnight on December 31,” Cooper said. “In fact, in North Carolina, we have seen some of our highest case counts, percent positives, hospitalizations and ICU bed usage numbers in the past few days. No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we must treat it that way.”
“We are in a very dangerous position. North Carolinians need to take immediate actions to save lives, slow the spread of the virus, and protect hospital capacity so that medical care is available to anyone who may need it, whether for COVID-19 or for any other reason,” Cohen added.
North Carolina’s data and trends
Trajectory in COVID-Like Illness (CLI) Surveillance Over 14 Days
♦ North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is increasing.
Trajectory of Confirmed Cases Over 14 Days
♦ North Carolina’s trajectory of cases is increasing.
Trajectory in Percent of Tests Returning Positive Over 14 Days
♦ North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive is increasing.
Trajectory in Hospitalizations Over 14 Days
♦ North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is increasing.
In addition to these metrics, the state continues building capacity to adequately respond to an increase in virus spread in testing, tracing and prevention.
♦ Testing is widely available across the state.
♦ There have been more than 600,000 downloads of the exposure notification app, SlowCOVIDNC.
Personal Protective Equipment
♦ North Carolina’s personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies are stable.
Cohen also provided an update on North Carolina’s COVID-19 County Alert System map. There are now 84 counties designated as red (critical community spread) and 12 counties that are yellow (substantial community spread). Read the update to see where each county stands and how the system was designed.
Vaccine Efforts Underway
Cooper and Cohen also highlighted North Carolina’s efforts to support the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The governor has mobilized approximately 50 North Carolina National Guard personnel to support NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management. The Guard will assist with administering the vaccine and logistics support for local entities.
“As we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are also helping local hospitals and health departments to support their vaccine efforts. Getting the vaccine out quickly is the most urgent priority right now, and we will use everything and everyone needed to get the job done,” Cooper said.
NCDHHS is onboarding more health care providers to administer the vaccine and sharing detailed guidance with providers to help them get the vaccine out more quickly. NCDHHS has also notified vaccine providers that future allocations will be based on how quickly they are able to get their supply out to eligible recipients. If an entity is not using their vaccine supply quickly enough or keeping the state database updated on their progress, it will impact how much they are allocated going forward.
As the state moves into Phase 1b, local hospitals and other vaccine providers can now begin administering vaccines to those over age 75. Individuals should call their local health department or hospital to see if they have started to schedule vaccine appointments. A comprehensive list of local health department contact numbers can be found HERE.
Finally, NCDHHS and the State of North Carolina continue to work with communities around the state who may be hesitant to accept the vaccine when it is their turn. Cooper and Cohen underscored that this vaccine was authorized after independent health experts reviewed the data from tens of thousands of trial participants.
Read Executive Order No. 188.