RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – Governor Roy Cooper and Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Dr. Mandy Cohen urged people to follow the science and get vaccinated in a media briefing held Thursday afternoon.
“We have had 15,004 people who have died. All deaths occurring are preventable with the vaccine,” said Cooper. “How many people will have to witness the painful, cruel death of a loved one to see that vaccines are the way out of this? If you’re unsure, get off social media and get on the phone with your doctor.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen said we can lift some of the burden off healthcare workers by getting vaccinated.
Cohen said the trajectory of cases shows how rapidly the cases have risen during the past two months and North Carolina is averaging 6,000 cases a day.
She said case rates are highest for children 17 and younger.
“Only 35% of children age 12-17 are vaccinated,” said Cohen.
Cohen added that the overall percent positive rate has been above 10% since the beginning of August and the level of transmission is at the highest level in every county in the state. She said more than 3,800 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and more than 900 of those need intensive care. More than a third are under the age of 49.
Cohen urged people to wear a mask, get vaccinated, and help others get accurate information.
In order to keep children in the classroom Cooper urged schools to continue requiring masks.
“We know that keeping kids learning in the classroom is the most important thing for our students right now,” said Cooper. “Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public indoor settings and following the science is what we need to do. The faster we put this pandemic behind us, the sooner we can all rest easy and stay healthy.”
Currently, 109 school districts covering more than 95% of children have mandatory masks.
Cooper said he was pleased to see that many businesses are setting a strong example by requiring vaccination and encouraged more businesses to do this.
“Get vaccinated, wear mask indoors and follow the science,” said Cooper.
Some people are concerned about learning loss for children in quarantine, especially in the districts that are not enforcing a mask mandate.
Cohen said the strong schools tool kit is in place to make sure children are in classroom learning safely.
“The focus is to keep kids in the classroom and keep them there safely,” she said.
Potential for statewide mask mandate
Although all options remain on the table, “we are laser focused on getting people vaccinated,” said Cooper. “Everybody has to look at their own situation and make decisions for themselves…especially people who are not vaccinated.”
What happened to flattening the curve?
In response to this question Cooper said we did not have vaccines 18 months ago and that it’s important to not put things in place that will detract from getting people vaccinated.
Cohen said we want to reach young adults and help them understand why getting vaccinated is not just about them, it’s about their community.
“This virus is serious and we need to make sure we are protecting each other,” said Cohen.
Potential for mandatory vaccination
Today, the President is announcing a federal vaccination requirement for employers with more than 100 workers to require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly.
On September 1, in accordance with Executive Order 224, state cabinet agencies started requiring state employees to verify that they have been vaccinated, with consequences of weekly testing and required masking for not doing so.
Some people have expressed concern about variations in COVID test result turnaround times. Cohen said that other than around holiday weekends, turnaround testing times have held steady across the state at about one and one half days.
Vaccine booster shots
Cooper said third shots are already being provided for immunocompromised people and the state is ready to roll out boosters once they are approved by FDA and the CDC. Cohen added that supply will not be an issue; however, access points may be different for booster shots.
To date, North Carolina has administered over 10.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 62% of the adult population fully vaccinated and 67% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine
The briefing can be viewed here.
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