Here you can find up-to-the-minute information on the coronavirus in the Piedmont Triad, North Carolina and the surrounding region.
Click the video player above for the latest information from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
3:35 p.m. Saturday:All of the vaccination appointments with the Forsyth County Health Department were filled within 30 minutes. There are no more appointments available at this time.
3:10 p.m. Saturday: There’s a misconception when it comes to suicide that the winter months foster higher numbers of people in crisis. Charlotte-native and suicide prevention instructor Fonda Bryant argues that it’s an everyday health crisis.
“Mental health isn’t one size fits all,” Bryant said. “People think it’s just on an individual, case-by-case basis. But people are dying every day. It’s a huge problem.”
Bryant had just started teaching QPR Suicide Prevention Training courses (QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer), with only a couple of in-person lessons under her belt, when the pandemic forced everyone to go virtual. She quickly transitioned to running training classes online and realized the internet gave her the opportunity to reach more people.
Click the link below to read more.
12:50 p.m. Saturday: North Carolina reported a dramatic decrease in cases of the flu this season as people take coronavirus precautions.
Only four flu-related deaths have been reported to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services so far this season. Last year, 186 people died and more than 200 people died during the 2018-2019 season, NCDHHS said.
Doctors said the low levels of flu are happening despite similar or higher levels of testing for the flu or RSV, which could be attributed to coinciding symptoms with the coronavirus.
Clink the link below to read more.
12:20 p.m. Saturday: Less than 100 people died for the first time in four days, according to NCDHHS. The state reported 85 deaths Saturday.
12 p.m. Saturday: NCDHHS added new demographic data for coronavirus vaccinations per county on the vaccination page of its dashboard.
Data is now available for the first dose as well as the first and second dose of the vaccine for race, ethnicity, gender and age group. This data does not include information administered through the federal long-term care facilities program.
“North Carolina continues to lead the country on data transparency with a focus on race and ethnicity data,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen. “More importantly, we use this critical data to drive our vaccine operations work to ensure equity across our state.”
North Carolina was one of the first states to release statewide race and ethnicity data for the vaccines.
11:30 a.m. Saturday: A coronavirus test facility identified a rare case of a Denmark “cluster five” variant in North Carolina Saturday.
Scientists are still determining more about this variation. “Preliminary findings suggested that there was a lower capability of antibodies to neutralize the Cluster 5 strain, which requires further investigation,” according to the World Health Organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, is the most widespread variant with 611 known cases in the country as of Feb. 4. MAKO Medical identified five total cases in North Carolina.
The CDC does not have the Denmark variant on its variant tracking chart at this time.
“As we continue our sequencing of indicated samples, we have found a continued rise in variant occurrences,” said Steve Hoover, vice president of laboratory operations at MAKO Medical. “Over the past week, indicated samples are now returning positive variant cases at a fifty-percent rate, up from a twenty-five percent rate last week. The information we are collecting is shared directly with state health officials to assist in understanding the presence of the variants in communities across the country.”
4:05 p.m. Friday: The Alamance County Health Department will now offer coronavirus vaccinations to people who are 65 years and older, in coordination with the NCDHHS guidelines.
3:30 p.m. Friday: The Forsyth County Health Department will start registration for 900 new appointments at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6. The appointments are for Feb. 11 through Feb. 13.
To schedule online, click here.
1:50 p.m. Friday: The Forsyth County District Court will change the way it works for cases on the docket for the first time starting Monday because of coronavirus.
A new ADVISE court, located on the Main Street (second floor) entrance of the Hall of Justice, will be where people are seen for their first time on the docket.
During the pandemic, a limited number of people will be let in the building at one time, so people will most likely have to wait in a social-distanced line outside of the building for admittance.
With weather conditions, people are strongly urged to dress appropriately and avoid bringing small children, “as the wait time outdoors could be relatively significant, given the number of people needing to be advised and the small number of individuals that will be allowed into the building at once,” according to Chief District Court Judge Lisa Menefee.
Masks will be required both in the building and while people are waiting in line outside.
Individuals who have an attorney before the scheduled ADVISE court date do not have to be present, as attorneys can notify the office ahead of the date and secure a new court date on their behalf.
1:35 p.m. Friday: NCDHHS reported 113 new deaths Friday as the number of patients in the hospital continues to trend downward.
12:30 p.m. Friday: The Guilford County Health Department will start registration for 3,800 new appointments on Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 8 a.m.
The county is following NCDHHS guidelines of offering vaccinations to people 65 years and older as part of groups 1 and 2.
To schedule an appointment, click here or call 336-641-7944 (Option 2) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Vaccine clinics are being held at:
- Mount Zion Baptist Church – 1301 Alamance Church Rd., Greensboro
- High Point University Community Center at Oak Hollow Mall – 921 Eastchester Dr., Suite 1230, High Point
- Greensboro Coliseum – 1921 W. Gate City Blvd., Greensboro
3:45 p.m. Thursday: Gov. Roy Cooper outlined a $4 billion budget plan Thursday to use COVID-19 relief funds for immediate needs and state resources during the coronavirus pandemic.
This plan would be a part of the bill that passed in the House Thursday, according to Cooper’s press conference.
“I appreciate the work of legislators to quickly pass vital relief as the state responded to the pandemic last year and I believe we can work together to get the job done again,” Gov. Cooper said.” Our communities and people face serious challenges and we must come together to identify areas of common ground and help our people beat the pandemic and thrive once again.”
According to Gov. Cooper, federal funds would go toward:
- About $2 billion for emergency assistance for public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions
- $336 million for childcare and development block grants
- About $700 million for access to vaccines and testing, tracing and prevention measures to slow the spread of the virus
- $546 million for emergency rental assistance, which will build on North Carolina’s current work, such as the HOPE program
- $258 million for Highway Infrastructure and $65 million for airports
- $47 million for Community Mental Health Services
- Funding for food assistance programs, such as SNAP and school nutrition
Cooper said the state’s budget remains strong, and he also recommends:
- $50 million for continued hazard duty pay for state employees on the frontlines of COVID-19, especially law enforcement and corrections personnel
- $64.5 million for the replenishment of the North Carolina State Health Plan
- $468 million for bonuses for educators and school personnel in public K-12 schools, community colleges and the university system
- $30 million to extend high-speed internet to all corners of the state and other urgent connectivity initiatives, such as IT infrastructure, security for community colleges and enhancement of 35,000 hotspots used for education
- $37 million to support small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic and often don’t have large cash reserves, including small business counseling, marketing for tourism and hospitality, ReTOOLNC program for historically underutilized businesses (HUBs), and the business loan program at Golden L.E.A.F.
- Expansion of state unemployment benefits, which are still among the lowest in the country (North Carolina’s Unemployment Trust Fund remains healthy, with a balance of more than $2.59 billion. North Carolina should increase the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks and increase the maximum benefit from $350 to $500 per week.)
Click the link below to watch the full press conference.
2:45 p.m. Thursday: The House unanimously approved a coronavirus relief bill Thursday that sends federal money approved by Congress in December to schools for reopening, public health officials distributing the vaccine and residents struggling to pay their rent.
The bill also extends the Extra Credit grants for parts who didn’t take advantage of the stimulus opportunity in 2020.
Click the link below to learn more.
2:40 p.m. Thursday: North Carolina senators gave preliminary approval for a bill Thursday that would require school districts in the state to offer at least partial in-person instruction for all K-12 public school students.
Senate Bill 37, which was proposed by state Sens. Deanna Ballard, Michael Lee and Ralph Hise, would still allow parents to utilize an online-only option for their child.
Click the link below to read more.
2:45 p.m. Wednesday: Novant Health announced three Novant Health Express at Walgreens will open in North Carolina, with one of them opening in Winston-Salem.
The healthcare company said it will open at the location on 1712 S. Stratford Road in Winston-Salem.
At this time, COVID-19 vaccinations will not be offered at this site.
“Novant Health is excited to partner with Walgreens as this will help us make healthcare more convenient, affordable and accessible,” said Dr. Pam Oliver, executive vice president and president of Novant Health Physician Network. “Our new clinics at Walgreens create an additional venue for Novant Health to support and care for community members with chronic conditions as well as expand access to quality care for minor illnesses and injuries.”
9:45 p.m. Tuesday: Walgreens announces plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines at 300 locations in North Carolina, thanks to a federal program.
The CDC will allot more than 31,000 doses across the state. Vaccinations will begin Feb. 12.
2:30 p.m. Tuesday: Gov. Roy Cooper and top state education leaders are urging on North Carolina’s K-12 school districts to allow in-person instruction for all students.
Cooper joined North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis to thank educators for their extraordinary work during an unprecedented time, to highlight ongoing research that shows that with proper mitigation measures, in-person learning is safe, and to emphasize the critical importance of ensuring all students have an opportunity to learn in a classroom.
“Protecting the health and safety of the people of this state, especially our children and our teachers, has been our goal,” Cooper said. “We know school is important for reasons beyond academic instruction. School is where students learn social skills, get reliable meals, and find their voices. Research done right here in North Carolina tells us that in-person learning is working and that students can be in classrooms safely with the right safety protocols in place.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, state leaders have emphasized the importance of returning students to in-person learning as quickly and safely as possible. Children who rely solely on remote instruction are feeling the negative effects of isolation, including learning loss, mental health challenges and food insecurity.
The state’s public health toolkit details specific health and safety protocols K-12 schools must implement to keep students and teachers safe during in-person instruction.
“Even with the thousands of students and teachers attending school in-person across the state, we have seen few COVID-19 clusters in our public schools,” Cohen said. “Our Department will continue to serve our school communities, offering resources and support so we can keep our school doors open.”
Increasing evidence suggests that, with prevention measures in place, there are low rates of COVID-19 transmission in primary and secondary school settings even with high rates of community transmission.
In addition, ongoing medical studies and peer-reviewed data affirm that children infected with COVID-19 generally have mild or no symptoms, and are less likely to spread the disease.
“Learning loss resulting from COVID has the potential to be a generational hurdle, but the data we have seen shows us that schools can reopen safely if they adhere to COVID prevention policies,” Truitt said. “For many schools, the logistics of returning to in-person instruction five days per week will be a challenge, but this is absolutely a challenge we must face head on so that all students have a chance to fulfill their potential. With strong prevention measures in place, and the scientific research to back them, now is the time to act. North Carolina’s students cannot lose any more time.”
READ THE FULL STORY:LIVE BLOG: Latest coronavirus information in the Triad