Gov. Roy Cooper said on Tuesday that state officials will make an announcement this week with specific dates for when frontline essential workers, the next group slated for vaccination, can begin to schedule vaccine appointments. The state is currently vaccinating those in the first two groups of its vaccine plan: health care workers, people who live or work in long-term care facilities and people ages 65 and older.
“We still have thousands and thousands of people who are on waiting lists who are 65 and older, waiting for a vaccine, waiting for the supply to increase,” Cooper said during a press conference on Tuesday.
The state has so far administered some 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. It receives about 150,000 doses from the federal government each week, though Cohen said on Tuesday that the state is expecting about a 5% increase in that allocation going forward.
“The most significant challenge we face is that there’s just not enough vaccine available,” Cohen said on Tuesday.
State officials are also hoping vaccine supply will increase in the coming months as more companies receive emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Johnson & Johnson submitted its COVID-19 vaccine, which only requires one shot, to the agency for review last week.
“We know that the ease of administering Johnson & Johnson will be much greater because it’s only one dose and because you don't have the storage requirements that you have with the Pfizer vaccine,” Cooper said.
Meanwhile, North Carolina on Tuesday hit a somber pandemic milestone: more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths. The state Department of Health and Human Services reported 10,046 people in the state have now died from the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The state reported its first coronavirus-related death on March 25, 2020. Since the first cases were announced in early March, the state has performed more than 9,344,000 coronavirus tests and reported a total of about 802,000 cases, according to state health department numbers.
Recently, North Carolina officials have said the state’s metrics are beginning to improve, particularly the percentage of coronavirus tests coming back positive and the number of hospitalizations, though they caution that residents should continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing to prevent virus spread.
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