More than 10,000 North Carolinians have died of COVID-19.
The somber milestone was recorded Tuesday, even as new cases of the virus and hospitalizations have been trending downwards in North Carolina.
“Each one of these numbers represents a daughter or son, a parent or grandparent, a neighbor or friend — people who are deeply loved and who were part of the fabric of our community,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.
While Cohen reflected on the loss, she also offered praise to health care providers who have been working long-hours to vaccinate as many eligible North Carolinians as possible.
To date more than 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, with more than 280,400 individuals now fully vaccinated.
State health officials are focusing now on the speed of delivery as well as equity, to combat the perception that white North Carolinians are getting a disproportionate share of the protective vaccine.
Sec. Cohen said the percentage of vaccine administered to historically marginalized and minority populations in a county should meet or exceed the population estimates of these communities in their county and region.
For the week of February 3rd, 18 % of the vaccines administered in our state have gone to our Black/African American population. That’s up from 11 % in mid-January. African Americans make up about 22% of the state’s population.
More work is needed to encourage the Latino community to get vaccinated. They represent just two percent of the vaccines administered thus far, though they make up roughly 10% of the population.
Guidance for teachers coming soon
While teachers have been anxious to get a firm date before returning to in-person learning, Cooper cautioned they may still find themselves in a holding pattern.
“We still have thousands and thousands of people who are on waiting lists who are 65 and older waiting for a vaccine. And we know that 83% of the deaths comes from people 65 and older,” said Gov. Cooper.
Both Gov. Cooper and Sec. Cohen agree approval of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine could dramatically improve wait times.
“We’re hopeful to see more and more vaccine from these original two and we know that a third is going to be reviewed by the FDA by the end of the month, so we hope for more vaccine by March,” Cohen said.
North Carolina is currently receiving just 150,000 doses of the vaccine weekly.
“We just did hear from the Biden administration this morning that we should see a five percent increase,” Cohen offered at Tuesday’s briefing.
The promised 5% increase to the states over last week’s allotment, would represent a 28% increase overall since President Biden came into office three weeks ago.
For a closer look at vaccination efforts in our state, check out the latest information from the state dashboard below: