NC DHHS

Counties, Hospitals Point To State Software As Vaccine Choke Point

Jan 28, 2021
Spc. Larry Diaz assigned to Headquarters Company, 113th Sustainment Brigade, North Carolina National Guard (NCNG) prepares to inoculate NCNG members with COVID-19 vaccine at Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, Jan. 8, 2021. These inoculations will help t
Sgt. Joe Roudabush / North Carolina National Guard Public Affairs

Early this week, simmering frustrations boiled over with a multi-million-dollar system that the state of North Carolina bought to track vaccine administration.

"The COVID Vaccine Management System (CVMS) is burdensome and ineffective, creating an unnecessary bottleneck in the delivery of vaccines," the state's hospital association said in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper. "Speed to improvement has been slow."

Health Secretary Mandy Cohen and Governor Roy Cooper
N.C. Department of Public Safety

North Carolina's top public health official acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that the state has seen a small number of coronavirus vaccine doses thrown out at a time when supplies remain limited.

North Carolina is seeing record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations, and Black and Latinx people continue to make up a disproportionate share of them. Without a vaccine, public health experts say testing is a key tool for keeping COVID at bay, and strengthening access to testing in underserved communities remains a necessity. It's a compelling enough argument to convince host Leoneda Inge to get tested herself.

Leoneda talks with Deepak Kumar, director of NCCU’s Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, about improving health services for communities of color. And she speaks with Dr. Cardra Burns and Ben Money from the NC Department of Health and Human Services about the state’s recent testing efforts.
 


A large brick industrial building with a Tyson sign on the side
Jacob Biba / Carolina Public Press

Nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities and childcare centers are required to report information about coronavirus outbreaks to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The state agency then shares that information publicly in its regularly-updated COVID-19 dashboard, which includes details about the specific facilities in which the outbreaks are happening and how many people have tested positive for the virus.

But the agency does not publish similar data about meat processing facilities, even though they have been a hot spot for the virus. 

Side photo of a North Carolina Public Schools bus.
NCDOT Communications

North Carolina public schools will open this fall with a mix of in-person and remote-learning options, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. 

Dr. Abhi Mehrotra in the UNC Hospitals Emergency Department.
UNC Health

As North Carolina sees more and more people hospitalized due to COVID-19, doctors at Triangle hospitals express concern, but also confidence that the state's health care systems are better positioned to handle an influx of patients than they were three months ago.

Workers cutting meat
U.S. Government Accountability Office

Meat processing facilities in North Carolina have seen coronavirus outbreaks among their workers, disrupting supply chains and causing concerns about meat shortages. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told a North Carolina news collaborative on Tuesday that there are 2,146 cases in 28 outbreaks at meat processing facilities. 

Nursing home residents sit around a table.
PJ Johnson

Nursing homes are hotspots for spreading the coronavirus. Long-term residents can more easily stay isolated from family and friends, but workers and short-term patients travel in and out of nursing home communities. Many may be asymptomatic, unknowingly providing an opportunity for the virus to enter and exit vulnerable communities. 

Curbside sign reads: Please remain in your vehicle, we will be right with you.
Ben McKeown / WUNC

North Carolina is still in the early phase of its COVID-19 outbreak. The statewide case count jumped over the weekend, from 888 last Friday to about 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases Tuesday morning. 

A picture of a man using an e-cigarette.
www.vaping360.com / Vaping3650/Flickr

State health officials are investigating a series of hospitalizations possibly related to vaping. Three patients in North Carolina have been treated for a severe lung illness since July.

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services headquarters at Dorothea Dix in Raleigh.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

Hundreds of families with children with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities will soon receive robust help from the state.

Lawmakers have approved an expansion to the Innovations Waiver program, which pays for services that help families and individuals with IDD.

Hospital room
PROFotos GOVBA / Flickr Creative Commons

For the past 40 years, healthcare service providers wanting to open new facilities have had to get a Certificate of Need from the state Department of Health and Human Services. The regulations, known as CON laws, cover 12 different types of medical services, making North Carolina’s laws some of the most restrictive in the nation. 

An image of an empty hospital bed
Public domain

Thousands of Medicaid recipients across North Carolina are being denied government-assisted funding for personal-care services. In April 2015, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Division of Medical Assistance changed the requirements for personal-care eligibility.

A picture of a round wall thermostat.
midnightcomm / Flickr

County social service agencies are now accepting applications for the state's Low Income Energy Assistance Program. Qualified LIEAP applicants will get a one-time credit to be applied to their utility account.