Here’s a round up of COVID-19 related news for 12/4/20. See our Coronavirus Resource Guide for extensive resources and information.
North Carolina as a whole
The first 85,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine could be sent to North Carolina as early as December 15. According to Dr. Cohen, health care workers that care for or clean areas occupied by COVID-19 patients will be the first to get the shot. However, because Pfizer ships the vaccines in packages of nearly 1,000, not every hospital in North Carolina will get vaccines. Instead, larger hospitals that serve higher populations will be prioritized.
However, Cohen said they expect a larger shipment in the second week, especially if Moderna’s vaccine is authorized for emergency use. Those will also go to health care workers, as well as staff and residents in long-term care settings.
North Carolinians with two or more chronic conditions that put them at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19 will be in the next round of vaccinations, particularly those who live or work in congregate settings. Cohen said health officials hope to begin vaccinating this group by early 2021.
“Having a safe vaccine within weeks is an extraordinary scientific achievement, but it’s not a quick fix,” Cohen said. “It will take several months to have enough supplies that anyone can readily get a vaccine.”
A new high of 5,637 COVID-19 cases was included in the state’s daily COVID-19 update, a significant increase from Wednesday’s 4,199 positive tests. The daily percent positive test rate was 10.1%, down a little from Wednesday’s 11.4%, which was possibly the highest rate the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has logged.
North Carolina also reached a new high in COVID-19 hospitalizations at 2,101 patients as of Wednesday. As fears mount about hospital capacity – especially in rural areas – the state reported 2,500 available ventilators and 432 empty staffed intensive care unit beds.
“We are more concerned over it,” said Dennis Taylor, president of the N.C. Nurses Association. “I think the bed capacity situation is getting tighter.” Taylor added that a lack of hospital staffing, not just beds and ventilators, has them concerned.
Dr. Mandy Cohen called this week’s metrics “alarming,” and encouraged North Carolinians to take “personal responsibility” and stay away from family and friends.
Qualified families in North Carolina have until 2 p.m. Monday to apply for a $335 COVID-19 relief check from the state, thanks to a court order last month extending the deadline to apply.
To apply for the money meant to help offset costs brought on by the pandemic, families can go to 335forNC.com or call 800-215-5988.
North Carolina’s Extra Credit grant program was signed into law in early September, the Charlotte Observer reported. About 1 million households qualified automatically and have received the checks.
But there are tens of thousands of families in the state who didn’t earn enough in 2019 to file a state tax return, meaning they had to apply for the money. The program initially had an Oct. 15 application deadline, but a lawsuit filed on behalf of nonprofit groups and several low-income residents prompted a Wake County judge to push the deadline back.