Governor Roy Cooper said Thursday there is increasing urgency for everyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
For the week ending Sept. 4, children age 17 and under made up 31% of the state’s new COVID-19 cases.
That is the highest percentage since the pandemic began.
“The numbers aren’t good, especially the number of people in the hospital and dying,” Cooper said.
In the past 24 hours, the coronavirus has claimed 110 lives with North Carolina recording 15,004 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
By far, the most people hospitalized right now by COVID are unvaccinated.
The governor said COVID vaccines are continuing to do their job, stopping severe illness and death among those who have had the shots.
“If you’re still unsure about getting one, how about getting off social media and get on the phone with your doctor,” Gov. Cooper pressed. “That is the best place for accurate medical information.”
“Our case rates are highest for children 17 and younger,” cautioned state Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.
School districts that initially allowed for masking to be optional have reversed course to help slow the spread.
Now 109 school districts, covering roughly 96% of the state’s public school children are requiring masks to be worn indoors.
Yet only 35% of those in the 12-17 age bracket have been vaccinated.
“Right now we moved to have state employees and cabinet agencies required to verify that they have been vaccinated. I hope local school systems will move toward this,” said Cooper.
“I hope more teachers will understand that it’s really important to protect their students.It’s also important to protect themselves.”
Cooper said his administration will study President Biden’s new executive order requiring federal employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.
Layers of protection
With 100 counties seeing high levels of COVID transmission, Sec. Cohen stressed the need for all North Carolinains to ‘add layers’ to protect themselves.
“Obviously, get vaccinated. Wear a mask when you are indoors in public settings. Get tested in you’ve had an exposure or if you have have symptoms. And seek treatment early for COVID.”
Cohen said the virus is seeking out the unvaccinated, and that leaves a number of children too young to get a shot highly susceptible.
“There are going to be some cases where a child has a simple cold, and other kids get really sick. And it’s not clear which kid is going to fall into what category.”
Cohen says because of that broad spectrum, it’s imperative that adults who are able to get the vaccine get their shot.
“As a parent of two children who are unvaccinated – I have a seven and a nine year old – I feel good about them going to in-person school, when we are using those safety protocol,” said Dr. Cohen.
Cohen also encouraged those attending large outdoor events like college football games to mask-up.
“Layers of protection are important. If you are doing something where you are shouting or singing, where you are doing a lot more heavy breathing. Those are the times where you are going to want to wear a mask, because risks can increase in that case.”
North Carolina has administered over 10.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 62 percent of the adult population now fully vaccinated.