At a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced updates to the NC vaccine schedule, allowing the remainder of Group 4 to become eligible on March 31 rather than April 7 as originally planned. This group consists mostly of essential workers who were not considered Group 3 frontline workers.
The group that becomes eligible on March 31 includes workers at chemical, commercial and communications facilities; construction and real estate employees; workers in the financial sector; public works and infrastructure workers; and others. You can find a more comprehensive list here.
Cooper also announced that Group 5, made up of all adults in NC who have not yet met the requirements of the vaccine schedule, will become eligible on April 7. This means anyone who is 16 years old or older who wants a vaccine.
Cooper also announced the formation of a new public private partnership with the NC Counts Coalition called Healthier Together: Health Equity Action Network, which will aim to enhance the state’s work to deliver equitable access to vaccines. The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will also release a new biweekly equity data report that the department says will provide another avenue for transparency in its efforts to reach underserved and historically marginalized populations.
“Our work will support the state’s ongoing priority to maximize the speed and efficiency of North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution while adhering to its commitment to equity,” stated Stacey Carless, executive director of the NC Counts Coalition, in a release on Tuesday. “Through Healthier Together, we will begin working with the state to address and dismantle systemic and structural barriers to healthier equity.”
As part of this initiative, Healthier Together will provide grants to community-based organizations and hire regional health equity teams to help those organizations in their outreach and education efforts, help match vaccine providers with the organizations, and work with NCDHHS to ensure that communities have the vaccine supply, outreach, and transportation resources they need to get people vaccinated, according to the release. The program is funded by federal COVID-19 dollars.
The new biweekly report, titled Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Equity in North Carolina, will detail the share of vaccinations in the past week that went to Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, and American Indian or Alaskan Native populations as well as key metrics for earning trust, embedding equity in vaccine operations, and promoting accountability through data transparency, according to the release.
Locally, vaccines are currently being offered at Bojangles through a partnership between Mecklenburg County and StarMed, as well as through private health-care providers, various mass vaccination sites from providers such as Atrium and Novant, as well as at participating Walgreens and CVS locations.
According to the NCDHHS dashboard, as of Tuesday at midnight, the state had administered 4,209,638 total vaccination doses to residents. As of that point, 32.3% of the North Carolina population had been at least partially vaccinated and 19.1% had been fully vaccinated. In Mecklenburg County, 186,534 people (16.8%) have been at least partially vaccinated while 116,251 (10.5%) have been fully vaccinated.
According to the latest numbers released by Mecklenburg County Public Health, which released its latest report on Friday, March 19, the county had seen a 5.1 test-positivity rate over the previous week, a slight increase from weeks before. That could be credited to less people getting tested if they did not think they were exposed.
According to Friday’s MCPH data, an average of 121 people were hospitalized on any given day over the previous week due to COVID-19, a decreasing trend over the previous 14 days. New local data on COVID-19 cases is expected tomorrow.
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