COVID-19 Novel CoronavirusInformation For Citizens & Visitors to North Carolina
People who received their COVID-19 vaccine or booster in North Carolina from a pharmacy or grocery store participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program are now able to access their COVID-19 vaccine information in the NC COVID-19 Vaccine Portal.
For security purposes, people will need to first activate their Vaccine Portal by calling the COVID-19 Vaccine Help Center at (888) 675-4567 to verify their identity. The help center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 is sending record numbers of people to North Carolina hospitals, straining hospital capacity. As hospitals continue to take steps to protect their ability to provide patient care in the face of nationwide COVID-19 related staffing shortages, NCDHHS and North Carolina Emergency Management are requesting federal support for the Charlotte region to help alleviate capacity constraints.
The state is acting in partnership with Atrium Health, North Carolina’s largest health provider, with a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response for staffing support. Atrium Health reports it has employed numerous strategies to stretch its capacity, including redeploying staff from urgent care and outpatient centers; limiting non-urgent procedures; closing specialty centers; and using additional state-provided flexibilities, as outlined in a letter NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley sent to hospitals last week. Despite these actions, the health system is currently above 95% capacity.
Due to the Omicron variant, COVID-19 cases have been on a steep rise for the past three weeks, achieving a 7-day average of new cases of nearly 29,000 cases per day. This is more than four-times the 7-day average of cases during the prior wave, led by the Delta variant. Similarly, but not to the same degree, hospitalizations have exceeded peak levels more than all past waves, with over 4,700 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19.
The rate of COVID-19 infections is once again disproportionately impacting Black and Hispanic North Carolinians. Since Dec. 26, the rate of infections was twice as high among the Black population as compared to the white population and as much as 57% higher among the Hispanic population as compared to the non-Hispanic population, according to an analysis of positive cases reported to NCDHHS.
Case rates in the Black community were lower than whites at the beginning of December but rose much more quickly with the Omicron variant. With greater rates of infection, disparities are now also showing up in hospitalizations. From Jan. 1 through Jan. 17, hospitalization rates were highest among Blacks, followed closely by American Indians, at nearly double the rate of whites.
Vaccines, boosters and masks are the best tools that we have to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Two programs are connecting historically marginalized populations to vaccines: Healthier Together: Health Equity Action Network and NCDHHS’ Community Health Worker program.
NCDHHS has taken action to ensure NC Medicaid beneficiaries have access to free at-home tests for COVID-19. In alignment with the Biden administration’s requirement last week to provide free at-home tests for COVID-19, State Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, M.D., signed an order on Jan. 14, 2022, enabling NC Medicaid beneficiaries to receive free at-home COVID-19 tests from their local pharmacies.
Beneficiaries should select an at-home test at their preferred pharmacy and present their NC Medicaid ID card to the pharmacy for no out-of-pocket cost. The pharmacist will be able to bill Medicaid on the patient’s behalf.
January 7, 2022
With COVID-19 cases reaching pandemic highs, NCDHHS urges K-12 schools to promote vaccination and boosters for students and staff and require students and staff wear masks indoors to keep students in the classroom and limit the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday announced it recommends the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for children ages 12 to 15 to further protect them from COVID-19. The CDC also recommends a third dose of Pfizer for children ages 5 to 11 who have compromised immune systems. In addition, the wait time for boosters for anyone who received Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinations has been reduced from six months to five months. People who received two doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine should receive their booster in six months. People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive their booster two months after their vaccination.
COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed to a seven-day daily average of more than 480,000 cases per day in the United States, and the number of children being hospitalized across the country is increasing. COVID-19 cases among children in the U.S. have reached their highest ever reported since the start of the pandemic — more than 325,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported nationally in the final week of December. North Carolina is experiencing a similar surge in COVID-19 infections. Hospitalizations are rising nationally and in North Carolina, with intensive care units in the state at 85% of capacity.
North Carolina is still awaiting federal approval for Child Care P-EBT (formerly “Children Under 6”) and cannot issue benefits to this group until U.S. Department of Agriculture approval is received.
Today, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 245 to strengthen the state’s ongoing fight against COVID-19 with more health care workers and flexibility for care facilities, as well as easier access to vaccines, tests and treatments. The regulatory waivers in the Order are key to facilitating the state’s COVID-19 response at this critical juncture in the pandemic.
North Carolina is experiencing a significant wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the increasing spread of the Omicron variant, which is more transmissible than the original virus and previous variants. The spread of this variant and the Delta variant, particularly across the state’s unvaccinated population, has generated increased concern from medical professionals.
With cases of COVID-19 reaching record highs and hospitalizations increasing, Gov. Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley are calling on all North Carolinians to get vaccinated and get a booster as soon as they are eligible to protect themselves from severe illness from the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Early studies show that boosters greatly increase someone’s immune response and provide greater protection against the Omicron variant than no vaccine. The booster is especially important for those over 65 or in other populations at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
NCDHHS today announced the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program will expand to include all low-income households needing assistance in paying their water bill. LIHWAP was created in December 2021 after the State of North Carolina was awarded more than $38 million in federal funds to establish a new water assistance program for households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.