NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - While North Carolina reached a record high of hospitalizations Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said vaccines offer hope on the horizon.
“As concerning as the numbers are, I and many other North Carolinians have newfound hope in the development of promising vaccines,” Cooper said during a news conference Tuesday. “Moderna and Pfizer both have produced vaccines with remarkable early results, better than health experts ever hoped for.
“What we know so far is this: Safe, effective vaccines should be available soon. Our job is to be ready to get them to people as quickly and effectively as possible. North Carolina is working hard to hit the ground running when these vaccines are approved and shipped. For months, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has been developing a plan to distribute the vaccine so we can get past this pandemic.”
NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen stressed during the news conference that a limited number of doses will be available to the state when a vaccine is approved.
Cohen said it’s anticipated that a first vaccine would be approved during the middle of next week, and that about 85,000 doses will come to North Carolina.
According to Cohen, the first batch of vaccines received by the state will go to a limited number of hospital settings to vaccinate healthcare workers with a high exposure to COVID-19.
“As more vaccine becomes available, we’ll be able to have vaccine distributed to more of the state’s hospitals and then to our local health departments to focus on vaccinating our high-risk healthcare workers,” Cohen said. “Additionally, long-term care staff and residents are prioritized to receive vaccines.
“Vaccinations at our nursing homes, adult care homes and other long-term care setting are being managed by the federal government. However, the vaccines used in those long-term settings will be come from our state’s vaccine allotment.”
She added that a second vaccine is expected to be approved shortly after the first, and the state will then get a second allocation. The federal government plans to do weekly allocations of the vaccines.
Cohen said that she hopes by January that health departments and community heath centers will be able to start vaccinating other high-risk adults who have two or more chronic conditions.
Cooper said that the COVID-19 vaccine will be free for everyone receiving one regardless if they have health insurance.
“I have confidence in this process,” Cooper said. “Health care workers, people in long-term care and those at risk for severe illness will come first. But when it’s my turn to get this vaccine, I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeve.”
The North Carolina State Health Department reports another hospitalization record for the fifth day in a row. Tuesday, 2,033 hospitalizations have been reported. This is the first time the state has reached the 2,000-mark since the pandemic began in March. According to NCDHHS, 206 people have been admitted to the hospital in the last 24 hours. 1,888 Intensive Care Unit hospital beds are currently in use across the state.
The health department is also reporting 2,883 additional COVID-19 cases today.
“Within the next few weeks there will likely be at least one approved vaccine,” Cooper said. “And with hope so close on the horizon, we have to keep using the tools we know slow the spread of this virus to help save lives during the next few months. Don’t give up now when help is on the way.
“Wear a mask. If there’s ever a question about when we should put on a mask, err on the side of wearing it. It’s an easy way to protect our families & neighbors that’ll help boost the economy. When we all wear our masks, we help keep businesses open and customers and employees safe. Practice social distancing. Any time we leave the house. Any time we are near people we don’t live with. These simple measures do save lives.
“Don’t give up now. We need to work together and stay vigilant. If we do, I know we will get through this.”