RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“With our COVID-19 numbers getting higher, vaccinations are the best way to bring them down,” said Gov. Cooper. “The vaccines are safe, effective and free. With the vaccine, you protect yourself from the risk of hospitalization or death. Without it, you are vulnerable.”
The press conference came as the state continues to see a surge in new cases and hospitalizations, including 5,256 new cases and 102 new hospitalizations reported on Wednesday.
In addition, all 100 of North Carolina’s counties are now deemed to have high transmission of COVID-19.
“We are experiencing the fastest acceleration in cases since the pandemic started,” said Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “If cases keep increasing at the current rate, we will pass that January peek in a matter of weeks.”
DHHS data shows that new cases are highest for those ages 18-24, followed by people ages 24-49. Those two groups also have the lowest vaccine rates in the state.
“Anyone under 12 doesn’t have the option right now to get vaccinated,” added Dr. Cohen. “They are relying on us to protect them by getting ourselves vaccinated and wearing masks.”
With the back-to-school season right around the corner, many schools are releasing their COVID-19 plans and outlining new safety protocols. For many districts, mandatory face masks will be the new normal this school year.
“I continue to strongly urge all school leaders to make masks mandatory for students, staff and visitors,” Cooper said. “Requiring masks in schools will help keep students learning in the classroom while helping to keep COVID out. We want schools to educate children, not become hotspots for the virus, and I commend the school leaders who are looking out for the health of their students and staff.”
The state is also looking for ways to continually expand their access to vaccines, including to those in rural areas.
“I’ve asked the president to authorize more National Guard help so we can get vaccines to more communities across the state,” Cooper added.
To find a vaccine, visit North Carolina’s vaccine portal.
“Bottom line is that vaccines save lives,” said Cohen.