RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force held a media briefing Tuesday to provide updates on COVID-19 and vaccine distribution.
North Carolina reported 6,851 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The state has had 635,975 confirmed positive cases since March. There are currently 3,940 people who are hospitalized due to the virus and 4,085 people died in a one-day peak on Thursday, Jan, 7.
Governor Cooper said the vaccines are safe and effective and will save lives; getting them rolled out is a top priority. Health departments are partnering with other healthcare providers for mass vaccination events. North Carolina Emergency and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) have identified hundreds of state employees who can be deployed to assist with vaccine distribution.
Dr. Mandy Cohen says misinformation can be very dangerous. Progress is being made to overcome disparities in vaccine availability, especially to minority populations.
On Saturday, 11,000 new cases were reported in 24 hours in North Carolina with a 13 percent positivity rate.
NCDHHS had an increase of 113% in vaccinations compared with the week before; however, most vaccine sites still have very limited supplies.
Governor Cooper said preventing the spread of COVID-19 and saving lives is up to all North Carolinians right now.
“Words are powerful and it’s time to use them for good,” he said.
In response to people declining the vaccine because of lack of trust, Dr. Cohen said the state is training people to spread the correct information about vaccines being safe and effective.
The national government now is urging states to vaccinate people aged 65 and over. Cooper said North Carolina’s number one priority is to get people vaccinated quickly; however, the government keeps changing its recommendations to states.
Dr. Cohen says new recommendations will be implemented quickly and local health departments are adapting as new vaccine becomes available. NCDHHS is working with high-output sites across the state to scale up vaccine distribution.
North Carolina is behind other states because initially, North Carolina prioritized getting vaccine out to all 100 counties and then is following up by issuing more vaccines to those who have the staffing in place to increase distribution. The packaging of Moderna (100 doses) versus Pfizer vaccine (975 doses) has also affected the rate of distribution to different areas.
NCDHHS now is working to balance the distribution to solve speed and equity of distribution simultaneously. Some health departments in rural areas may struggle to administer the vaccine effectively, so people who are able can travel to high throughput sites where more vaccine is available.
Scheduling appointments is still recommended at this stage; however, drive-thru sites may become more prevalent for first-come-first served as the vaccination program moves forward.