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We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.
More than 9,300 cases added
At least 1,648,922 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 19,339 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday, Dec. 29, reported 9,377 new COVID-19 cases, up from 3,698 the day before. That’s the highest single-day jump since September.
For six days around the Christmas holiday, the state added more than 32,000 coronavirus cases, up from about 22,300 the previous six days, The News & Observer reported.
There were 31 additional coronavirus-related deaths on Dec. 29. Health officials don’t specify the dates on which newly reported deaths occurred.
At least 2,122 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 on Dec. 29, up from 1,992 the day before, health officials said.
As of Dec. 27, the latest date with available information, 17.3% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. That’s down from the previous day’s record of 21.9%, but health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.
Roughly 74% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 69% have been fully vaccinated. Out of the state’s total population, about 59% are fully vaccinated and 63% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.
Avett Brothers postpone NYE show
The Avett Brothers have postponed their New Year’s Eve concert in Greensboro over concerns about COVID-19 and the highly-contagious omicron variant.
The band was slated to perform Friday.
“A lot of thought has gone into this and a lot of love has gone into this decision,” singer and founding member Seth Avett said in a video on Twitter. “We don’t want to create an unsafe environment and we don’t want to add any burden to our already overwhelmed healthcare workers here in North Carolina and beyond.”
Wake opens new COVID testing sites
Wake County is offering three new mass COVID-19 testing sites to meet a surge in demand as residents rush to get tested between the holidays.
The new locations include the Word of God Assembly Church in Southeast Raleigh, PNC Arena and Five County Stadium in Zebulon. The first opened last week, the second is slated to start testing Dec. 31, and the third will open Jan. 3, The News & Observer reported.
Wake County communications consultant Leah Holdren previously told The N&O officials were anticipating “an increase in testing over the next few days as we (head) … into New Year’s due to travel, holiday gatherings and potential exposures.”
In Charlotte, tests are available through Mecklenburg County and at United Providers of Health, CVS or Walgreens. Some labs and private pharmacies, such as Rapid Diagnostics and Carolina Pharmacy, also offer tests for a price.
More information about where to get tested in the area can be found here.
RDU sees uptick in flight delays, cancellations
Omicron-fueled flight problems have affected Raleigh-Durham International Airport with several delays and cancellations ahead of New Year’s.
At least seven domestic flights were delayed and another eight were canceled as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 29, The News & Observer reported. A total of 16 flights into or out of RDU were canceled for the whole day.
Still, RDU spokesperson Stephanie Hawco said they haven’t dealt with as many delays and cancellations as other airports.
“It isn’t uncommon, but we have not seen widespread delays or cancellations this holiday season,” Hawco said. “And it’s difficult to predict whether or not that will remain the same as people continue to travel over the New Year’s holiday.”
Charlotte 49ers latest college basketball season delayed by COVID
The Charlotte 49ers pushed the start of the men’s and women’s Conference USA basketball schedules until at least Jan. 8, making it the latest university to have its season affected by COVID-19.
The university said the its games scheduled for this weekend had to be postponed because of COVID-19 issues among competing teams but that they are working to get them rescheduled. Both the men’s and women’s team were slated to face Florida Atlantic and Florida International this week.
The news follows a similar announcement from Davidson College, which said on Tuesday, Dec. 28, it will delay the start of the conference season for the men’s and women’s basketball teams because of COVID-19 protocols.
Duke University and UNC also had to postpone their basketball games scheduled for this week.
NC pauses free at-home COVID test kit deliveries
Labcorp announced it will pause orders of free COVID-19 home test kits from Dec. 29 to Jan. 2 in order to meet customer demand during limited holiday shipping delivery windows.
Labcorp is North Carolina’s free at-home testing option, The News & Observer reported, meaning residents have been able to order free test kits from them through a partnership with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.
In-person testing will still be available at some Labcorp locations for $119 per test, according to the company’s website.
Panthers star placed on COVID list
Haason Reddick, an outside linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, was put on the COVID-19/reserve list on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
He joins multiple teammates on the list and won’t play against the New Orleans Saints this weekend.
On Dec. 27, coach Matt Rhule said players went home after a “somewhat significant” number of positive tests, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Some stores close temporarily amid uptick in COVID cases
Some stores in Charlotte and the Apple store in Durham have temporarily closed amid a rise in coronavirus cases.
At least three stores in Charlotte have shut down — including Lunchbox Records, Moxie Mercantile and NoDa Bodega — after members of their staffs tested positive for COVID-19, CharlotteFive reported.
The Apple store at the Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham was also closed on Tuesday, Dec. 28, according to The News & Observer.
A sign on the door didn’t say why it was closed or when it would reopen.
“We look forward to seeing you soon,” the sign said.
The announcement follows a report by The New York Times that said Apple had “closed some stores as a precautionary measure to protect employees or because some stores did not have enough healthy employees available to work,” according to The N&O.
NC State, UCLA Holiday Bowl canceled
The Holiday Bowl in which N.C. State University and UCLA were set to play on Tuesday, Dec. 28, has been called off after an issue within the Bruins’ defensive line room, according to an initial report from Bruce Feldman.
The cancellation comes after the Bruins had COVID-19 issues with other programs on campus.
“We are deeply disappointed for our young men in the football program that worked extremely hard for this opportunity,” UCLA said in a statement. “The health and safety of our students will always be our North Star.”
N.C. State confirmed the bowl had been canceled in a statement just after 12:30 p.m. The game was officially canceled on Dec. 29
“Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season,” the Wolfpack’s statement read. “We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.”
Charlotte doctors urge residents to ‘reconsider New Year’s Eve plans’
A doctor in Charlotte warned people to reconsider their New Year’s Eve plans, cautioning that the latest variant of the coronavirus, omicron, is extremely contagious.
Atrium Health infectious disease expert Dr. Katie Passaretti said people who haven’t been vaccinated, have weakened immune systems or who are older adults should be extra cautious, The Charlotte Observer reported.
“For everyone, I would encourage people to reconsider their New Year’s Eve plans,” she said. “If they’re in indoor settings in particular.”
At least three locations in Charlotte have already canceled their New Year’s events amid a surge in cases.
They include NoDa Company Store, VBGB Beer Hall and Garden and its neighbor from the same owners, 8.2.0 Event Space, CharlotteFive reported.
This story was originally published December 29, 2021 7:11 AM.