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Cooper Extends 10 p.m. Curfew In NC; People 75 Or Older Begin Vaccinations

Charles Mandelin and Katie Overbey prepare the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for administering at Duke University Hospital in Durham on Monday, December 14, 2020.
Shawn Rocco
Duke Health

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday announced a three-week extension of a 10 p.m. curfew aimed at helping slow the spread of the coronavirus as some counties experienced a bumpy rollout of vaccines for residents over age 75.

As the state moved beyond healthcare workers and those in nursing homes and shifted to the new phase of vaccine distribution for certain elderly members of the general public, some sites quickly ran out of supplies or experienced long lines or crowds.

Not all counties had begun the new phase because key healthcare workers who regularly come into contact with COVID-19 haven't all had the opportunity to get their first dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

At a time when data from the state Department of Health and Human Services shows 96 of North Carolina's 100 counties with substantial or critical community spread, Cooper warned residents to remain vigilant.

“No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat, and we've got to treat it that way,” Cooper said.

Alamance County, which plans to administer 400 doses a day, reached capacity its vaccine clinic within 15 minutes of opening Wednesday morning and had to close it temporarily. It held another session in the afternoon.

“Due to a high volume of our community arriving onsite to receive a vaccine this morning, we quickly met capacity,” said a statement from Tony Lo Giudice, the county's health director.

Northwest of Raleigh, deputies were dispatched to the Person County Health Department to help with a crowd that had gathered at the door and tried to get in before it opened, but Sheriff Dewey Jones said the situation was quickly brought under control.

“We got a call, and it was prior to when it was supposed to open,” Jones said. “They were trying to go in before it was open, But once the doors open, there are some people still having to wait outside, but we haven’t had any issues.”

Cabarrus County, northeast of Charlotte, closed its vaccination clinic at an events center early due to overwhelming demand. Local news footage showed dozens of cars lined up in a queue stretching onto a nearby street.

And in Forsyth County, the Winston-Salem Journal reported that it received dozens of calls from people reaching out to the newspaper for help after they experienced long waits on the phone, busy signals and other problems as they tried to schedule vaccination appointments.

In Mecklenburg County, where Atrium Health and a county clinic began vaccinating patients over 75, cars lined up with previously scheduled appointment times, each patient appearing to be excited to get the vaccine.

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, 78, said she jumped at the chance to be vaccinated to allay concerns she's heard from some people.

“If I could be an example for them and say, I did it and I’m okay, then you need to do it too,” Counts-Scoggins said.

Allen Laymon, who was first in line, said the past year has been tough. He lives alone with his dog and hasn’t seen his family since last Christmas. But he knows the isolation and precautions have been necessary.

“I’ve had bladder cancer, prostate cancer, throat cancer, so I don’t want the COVID," he said. "And I know the best way to keep from getting that is the vaccine.”

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