Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of May 3
This post will be updated periodically with the latest information on how the coronavirus is affecting North Carolina. Scroll down for older updates. For a recap of last week's news, check out Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of April 26.
May 7, 2021
5:40 p.m. - North Carolina Chief Justice Paul Newby has issued a new order today extending some, but not all, COVID-19 precautions for the state's courts. Among the precautions that remain in effect include the option for remote court hearings and prohibiting anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 from entering a courthouse. The new order will discontinue a statewide mandate on social distancing in courts, and leave that up to local officials. Newby said he was able to ease restrictions due to the wide availability of vaccines. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC
2:50 p.m. - UNC-Chapel Hill announced today that it has taken action in response to 200 hundred reports of students violating COVID-19 community standards since the semester began in late January. The university says it received a total of 476 reports this semester. A majority came in February when students rushed Franklin Street after the Tar Heels defeated the Duke men's basketball team. But the university says most reports that night were not specific enough to pursue. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC
12:52 p.m. - College commencement season is underway. Several area colleges and universities will celebrate their graduates with in person ceremonies this Mother's Day weekend.
The familiar sound of graduation is back. That was music at Campbell University law school's graduation Friday morning. After last year's commencement plans were derailed by a global pandemic, this spring, graduates get to walk the stage once again. This weekend, Fayetteville State, N.C. A&T and UNC Greensboro will hold in-person ceremonies for the Class of 2021. All three are inviting graduates from the Class of 2020 to put on their caps and gowns too and celebrate their achievements together.
Next weekend, N.C. State and UNC Chapel Hill will hold their commencements. - Liz Schlemmer, WUNC
11:25 a.m. - Restaurants in downtown Durham can continue using outdoor spaces to host customers until October. On Thursday, the Durham City Council approved extending the program until Oct. 31. The program allows restaurants to serve customers on designated sidewalks, parking spaces or parks. The council may make the program permanent after the pandemic. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
8:05 a.m. - Spending by American visitors to North Carolina dropped 30% last year compared to 2019, according to an annual report released by Visit NC, the state's tourism agency. That drop is significantly sharper than after the Great Recession. Domestic spending in the state fell just 7% in 2009. Spending by international travelers fell nearly 80% in 2020 from the previous year. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
May 6, 2021
8:40 a.m. - Governor Roy Cooper isn’t backing away from wanting two-thirds of North CArolina adults to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before lifting the statewide indoor mask mandate. But, he is leaving some wiggle room.
Just under 50% of North Carolina’s adult population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But the rate of vaccination has slowed greatly, with the state now only vaccinating one-tenth of a percent or two-tenths of a percent of adults daily. In a visit to a vaccination site in Charlotte Wednesday, Cooper says he’s sticking with the vaccination goal he announced in late April.
"We want to keep the indoor mask requirement in effect until we can get to 66% of the population with at least one shot,” Cooper said.
The governor, however, did leave the door open to lowering that goal. Cooper says the state is still on track to lift all social distancing, capacity, and mass gathering restrictions by June 1. – Steve Harrison, WFAE
7:47 a.m. - Students and teachers are no longer required by state officials to wear masks when they're outside at school. The updated guidance from the state department of health and human services reflects a recent executive order from Governor Roy Cooper that gets rid of the statewide outdoor mask requirement. Students and teachers still have to wear masks indoors. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
7:22 a.m. - Legislators are pressing to make sure patients at North Carolina health care facilities can have visitors. The state Senate and House approved separate measures Wednesday designed to address situations where patients lacked access to a minister or family visits. Under the Senate bill, hospitals could face fines of at least $500 per day if they don't comply with federal visitation rules. The House measure tells state-licensed hospitals to allow a clergy member to visit any patient requesting one. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
7:05 a.m. - A preliminary count shows around 14,000 Wake County Public Schools students have registered for the virtual academy for the upcoming year. That's a little less than 9% of the student population in the state's largest district. Families are being asked to commit to the virtual academy for one year. If COVID-19 vaccines for children become widely available, students would be allowed to transfer from the virtual school after the first semester. – Cole del Charco, WUNC
May 5, 2021
5:15 p.m. - A preliminary count shows around 14,000 Wake County Public Schools students have registered for the virtual academy for the upcoming year. That's a little less than 9 percent of the student population in the state's largest district. Families are being asked to commit to the virtual academy for one year. If COVID-19 vaccines for children become widely available, students would be allowed to transfer from the virtual school after the first semester. - Cole del Charco, WUNC
4:45 p.m. - The Franklin County library reopened its doors this week.
All four of the library's branches are operating at full capacity. Patrons still have to wear masks and practice social distancing inside. - Naomi Prioleau, WUNC
3:20 p.m. - North Carolina lawmakers advanced a bill through a committee today that would prevent state and local governments from punishing workers who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine. State Representative Jake Johnson says his proposal is necessary to protect state and local workers from being fired or retaliated against for their health choices. State health officials worry the proposal would conflict with federal rules and create staffing shortfalls if outbreaks occur at state-operated health facilities. House Bill 686 will need approval in two additional committees before it can go to a full House vote. - Associated Press
7:20 a.m. - The state division of motor vehicles is resuming regular road tests this week for 15 to 17-year-olds trying to get a provisional license. This change comes as health safety conditions in the state are improving. Drivers and examiners will be required to wear masks and have their temperature checked before starting the test. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
May 4, 2021
5:05 p.m. - Wake County is closing its largest vaccination clinic next week. WRAL reports the drive-thru clinic outside the PNC arena had been operating for the last three months. Now, it'll only give second doses to people until May 12th. The clinic will close in an effort to reach more people in the county by opening smaller, regional clinics. Almost half of North Carolinian adults have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. Forty-two percent are fully vaccinated according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. - Naomi Prioleau, WUNC
12:54 p.m. - More North Carolina children could soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize Pfizer’s vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15 next week. Dr. David Priest with Novant Health says he expects a lot of people in that age group will get vaccinated.
“A lot of families are used to having their kids getting vaccine,” Priest said. “They want them to get back to doing the things they want to do. My guess is there’ll be a pretty direct correlation as to whether parents got vaccinated as to whether their children got vaccinated.”
Priest says that over time, schools may decide to add the COVID-19 vaccine to their list of required vaccinations. The Pfizer vaccine is currently available for anyone 16 and older. People under 17 have accounted for 12% of North Carolina’s total COVID-19 cases, according to state health department numbers. - Naomi Prioleau, WUNC
9:33 a.m. - North Carolina House members can no longer cast floor votes remotely. Starting this week, House members must be present in the chamber to cast their votes. This change comes as a result of improving COVID-19 conditions. House leaders started offering proxy voting last spring. The number of members using proxy voting has decreased recently as more legislators have received coronavirus vaccines. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
7:20 a.m. - Wake County COVID-19 vaccine clinics will now allow walk-ins and drive-ins for first doses. Appointments are still encouraged, but are no longer required. Durham County is also opening up its vaccine clinics to walk-ins. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
7:10 a.m. - UNC Health will resume offering the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday. Officials say they've reviewed the CDC's recommendations and decided to offer the J&J shot to patients who want it. There was a nationwide pause on use of the vaccine due to several cases of rare and severe blood clots in people following vaccination.
Prior to those reports of serious blood clots, UNC Health was among a handful of providers that halted use of the J&J vaccine because a few people who got it fainted or had other minor reactions. Those reactions were determined to simply be the result of anxiety. – Naomi Prioleau, WUNC
7:05 a.m. – Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine are part of a team effort to develop better fitting reusable face coverings for health care workers.
Wake Forest School of Medicine researchers are part of a team effort to design improved personal protective equipment products for workers in the healthcare industry. The hope is that better-designed masks will help protect workers from COVID-19 variants that have already begun to spread in the United States. The School of Medicine is leading a feasibility study in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Open Standard Industries, a PPE manufacturer.
Philip Brown is an OSI co-founder and assistant professor at the School of Medicine. Brown says in a news release that clinicians are struggling with ill-fitting disposable masks that don’t provide adequate protection. He says the feasibility study will help researchers develop comfortable, reusable N95 masks that will better protect a diverse clinical workforce. Full enrollment for the study is expected to be complete by the end of May. - Neal Charnoff, WFDD
May 3, 2021
6:30 p.m. - UNC Health will resume offering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this Wednesday. Officials say they've reviewed the CDC's recommendations and decided to offer the J&J shot to patients who want it. There was a nationwide pause on use of the vaccine due to several cases of rare and severe blood clots in people following vaccination.
Prior to those reports of serious blood clots, UNC Health was among a handful of providers that halted use of the J&J vaccine because a few people who got it fainted or had other minor reactions. Those reactions were determined to simply be the result of anxiety. - Naomi Prioleau, WUNC
7:10 a.m. - The Durham County Public Health Department is opening up its COVID-19 vaccination clinic for walk-in appointments starting Monday. Walk-in vaccinations will be available for the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. The county is switching to walk-in availability as the demand for vaccines is starting to fall. The county will also resume using the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine starting today following state and federal guidelines. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
This post is compiled and edited by Elizabeth Baier, Jason deBruyn, Laura Pellicer and Mitchell Northam.
Previous weekly updates:
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Dec. 7
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Dec. 14
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Dec. 21
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Dec. 28
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Jan. 4
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Jan. 11
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Jan. 18
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Jan. 25
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Feb. 1
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Feb. 8
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Feb. 15
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of Feb. 22
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 1
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 8
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 15
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 22
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of March 29
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of April 5
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of April 12
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of April 19
- Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of April 26