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Coronavirus Live Updates: Week of June 1

 Airman 1st Class Emily Riddles administers a COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Robert Jordan
U.S. Army National Guard, North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs
Several North Carolina National Guard Airmen deployed to Raleigh Central Prison to assist with COVID-19 vaccine inoculations of prison staff in Raleigh, North Carolina, Feb. 16, 2021. Here, Airman 1st Class Emily Riddles administers an inoculation, one of 111 completed that day.

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 May 24.

June 4, 2021

5:50 p.m. - North Carolina refused its entire weekly allocation of COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government this week, for the first time since vaccines became available last December. Providers are instead getting supplies through transfers or requests to local health departments.

North Carolina today crossed the threshold of having half of all adult residents fully vaccinated, but demand is dropping. There's a surplus of 2.4 million shots waiting for arms. And the state has already returned hundreds of thousands of doses to the federal pool and turned down millions more. - The Associated Press

2:40 p.m. - Half of all North Carolinians over 18 are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the state's latest update. President Joe Biden has set out a goal of getting 70% of adults vaccinated by the 4th of July.

Governor Roy Cooper is considering more incentives — including the possibility of a lottery — and state health officials are trying out $25 cash cards to entice people to get their shot. - Amy Jeffries, WUNC

June 3, 2021

4:23 p.m. - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't ready yet to revise public health guidelines for schools. That's the word from state health director Betsy Tilson. She gave the State Board of Education an update Thursday on COVID-19 trends and the evolving public health guidance.
"When it comes to face coverings, we'll continue to look things over the summer, may make revisions in the fall, but they don't have a crystal ball for us and what those changes may be," she said.
Tilson shared promising news on the number of adolescents who've been vaccinated. Almost 150,000 12-17 year olds in North Carolina have had at least one shot so far. Tilson said Pfizer is expected as early as September to seek authorization to vaccinate children as young as 2, and Moderna is pursuing the greenlight to innoculate older youth.

8:51 a.m. - North Carolina's pandemic related rental assistance program is open for a second application period. The NC HOPE program helps very low income renters who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:30 a.m. - The state health department's COVID-19 dashboard now includes a metric for wastewater monitoring. People infected with COVID-19 shed viral particles in their stool. The online dashboard displays data from eight cities across North Carolina, including Raleigh and Durham. The wastewater monitoring shows COVID-19 infections have plateaued. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

June 2, 2021

5:30 p.m. - A second round of financial aid is going out to North Carolinians who still need help paying rent and utility bills during the pandemic. The state is using money from the latest federal coronavirus relief package to continue what's known as the HOPE program.

In a news conference this afternoon, Gov. Cooper said the program has distributed more than $130 million in assistance, but demand has been greater than the money that's available.

"We have asked the General Assembly to use some of the American Rescue Plan money to help us with affordable housing. Affordable housing [is] already a challenge for us. The pandemic has magnified it," said Cooper.

Applicants have previously reported the office was slow in sending out checks to landlords and utility companies. Cooper's administration says it's added a call center to help process applications. It's not yet clear whether the governor will extend the moratorium on evictions that's set to expire on June 30th. - Will Michaels, WUNC

11:22 a.m. - The State Department of Health and Human Services has been approved by federal officials to continue providing pandemic related food benefits through this summer. The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program helps families with eligible children access free or reduced-price meals at school. Eligible children will receive a one-time payment of $375 to cover the entire summer period of June through August. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

10:59 a.m. - Novant Health host a series of street festivals this summer across North Carolina to celebrate the slowing spread of COVID-19. Novant says the Welcome Back festivals will also support local businesses and honor healthcare heroes. The events will be held in July and August in Charlotte, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:05 a.m. – Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to share updates on COVID-19. Other state officials, including the North Carolina Office of Resiliency and Recovery, will also give updates on rent and utility assistance. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

June 1, 2021

4:20 p.m. - For the first time in over a year, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens is re-opening to the public starting today. Capacity will be limited to encourage social distancing. Masks will be required in restrooms but not outdoors. The cafe and shop will remain closed, and no walking or trolley tours will be available during this phased opening. The Gardens has been open to Duke students, faculty and staff since April. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:40 a.m. - A federally supported COVID-19 vaccination center in Greensboro closed last Friday. The mass vaccination site provided more than 140,000 vaccinations over 12 weeks, according to a press release. Officials say the center was no longer needed because vaccines are now widely available. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC

7:25 a.m. - New data models show COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in North Carolina could reach another sharp spike, or stay on a flat curve. N.C. State researcher Julie Swann played a big role in developing the model. She says the true outcome of the models will depend on North Carolinians.

“The timing of what can happen in the future will really be determined by behaviors,” Swann said. “And so the timing is not necessarily going to correspond exactly to to the data that we show. In fact, we hope that it doesn't, because we hope that more and more people get vaccinated."

N.C. State published an interactive dashboard online. Users can plug in various factors to see how vaccinations, mask wearing, and other variables would result in different levels of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. – Jason deBruyn, WUNC

7:05 a.m. - Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer and live music venues are looking at a much brighter future than they were this time last year. But the return of capacity crowds is still a couple months away for many.

The Haw River Ballroom's last show was mid-March 2020. Sitting along the Saxapahaw River in a renovated mill, the venue can accommodate a crowd of 715, but during the pandemic has served as a workout space for co-owners Heather and Tom LaGarde. Heather LaGarde says one of the best parts of resuming a performance schedule is welcoming back staff members laid off during the COVID shutdown.

"We were in tears when we found out that they were all coming back,” LaGarde said.

The ballroom is planning for a return to outdoor shows for the Saturdays in Saxapahaw summer series in August, followed by indoor shows in September. – Rusty Jacobs, WUNC

This post is compiled and edited by Elizabeth Baier, Jason deBruyn, Laura Pellicer and Mitchell Northam.

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Stories, features and more by WUNC News Staff. Also, features and commentary not by any one reporter.
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