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NC COVID-19 Blog: Governor Roy Cooper outlines budget recommendations includes pandemic relief funds

Find where you can get the COVID-19 vaccine. We link you in this story.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Get the latest updates on COVID-19 and vaccine supply from Gov. Roy Cooper and the state task force, health departments, universities, school districts, and more in this story. We'll put North Carolina's COVID-19 numbers in context for you, and explain what it could mean for the reopening process. Click here to find your spot to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2021

4:37 p.m. -- A woman at a North Carolina jail who had a pre-existing medical condition has died at a hospital from COVID-19.

Officials said the woman in her early 70s tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 24. She was hospitalized on Jan. 3. Her condition worsened, and she died on Feb. 4 

“We are working hard to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our prisons. The health and safety of the staff and the offender population continues to be our top priority,” said Todd Ishee, Commissioner of Prisons.

Prisons leadership has taken more than four dozen actions throughout the North Carolina prison system to try to prevent transmission of the virus. 

3:30 p.m. - The state updated the COVID-19 County Alert System it reveals trends are moving in a positive direction.  

Dr. Cohen said 61 counties are now red, a change from the last update that had 86 red counties. 

3:25 p.m. - Governor Roy Cooper outlines budget recommendations includes pandemic relief.

The information below is provided by the state.

The Governor’s early plan calls for investing federal stimulus funds along with some state resources for immediate critical needs. Governor Cooper’s plan would invest the state’s share of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which was signed into law Dec. 27. The federal appropriation totaled more than $4 billion for North Carolina. A fuller proposed biennial budget will be presented later in the legislative session.

The new federal funding is strictly proscribed, and with General Assembly appropriation will provide vital COVID relief such as vaccines, more supplies to slow the virus spread, help for rent and utility bills, and more funding to put food on the table. Federal funds will address:

  • Approximately $2 billion for emergency assistance for public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
  • $336 million for childcare and development block grants.
  • Approximately $700 million for access to vaccines and testing, tracing and prevention measures to slow the spread of the virus.
  • $546 million for emergency rental assistance, which will build on North Carolina’s current work. While this is the first dedicated federal funding for rental assistance, North Carolina recognized the extraordinary need to help people stay in their homes during the pandemic and created the HOPE program to pay back rent and utilities using last year’s CRF funds.
  • $258 million for Highway Infrastructure and $65 million for airports.
  • $47 million for Community Mental Health Services.
  • Funding for food assistance programs, such as SNAP and school nutrition.

In addition to the federal allocation plan, the Governor recommends investing $695 million from the state’s General Fund to address other immediate needs. Despite the pandemic, North Carolina’s budget availability remains strong, with more than $4 billion in unreserved cash in the General Fund. Among the needs facing North Carolina businesses and people, the Governor recommends addressing:

  • $50 million for continued hazard duty pay for state employees on the frontlines of COVID-19, especially law enforcement and corrections personnel who face COVID-19 every day.
  • $64.5 million for the replenishment of the North Carolina State Health Plan, which has incurred costs responding to COVID-19.
  • $468 million for bonuses for educators and school personnel in public K-12 schools, community colleges and the university system. Educators have stepped up in extraordinary ways during the pandemic but were not a part of the raises approved in the last biennium for state employees.
  • $30 million to extend high-speed internet to all corners of the state and other urgent connectivity initiatives, such as IT infrastructure, security for community colleges and enhancement of 35,000 hotspots used for education.
  • $37 million to support small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic and often don’t have large cash reserves, including small business counselling, marketing for tourism and hospitality, ReTOOLNC program for historically underutilized businesses (HUBs), and the business loan program at Golden L.E.A.F.
  • Expansion of state unemployment benefits, which are still among the lowest in the country. Despite the pandemic forcing thousands of people to lose their jobs – particularly in the restaurant and service industries - North Carolina’s Unemployment Trust Fund remains healthy, with a balance of more than $2.59 billion. North Carolina should increase the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks and increase the maximum benefit from $350 to $500 per week.

3 p.m. -- Gov. Roy Cooper will hold a news briefing to discuss the state's response to COVID-19 and share emergency budget recommendations. 

RELATED: Gov. Cooper to address COVID-19 response, vaccine rollout in North Carolina

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2021 

12:30 p.m. -- COVID-19 hospitalizations in North Carolina dropped for an 8th consecutive day, according to the latest data on the NCDHHS website. The state health department reported more than 12,000 new daily cases, which looks like a new record on paper, but here's what you need to know. Around 7,900 of those "new cases" were actually delayed case reports from FastMed clinics, dating back to December and January. So the 'real' number of new daily cases, is probably more like 4,100. 

"Because the NCDHHS COVID-19 Data Dashboard displays the net difference in cases from the prior day, the number of cases reported today is inflated due to this backlog in reporting. It is important to note this delay in reporting to NCDHHS did not impact patient notifications or care from FastMed," the NCDHHS said on its website. 

Forsyth County continues to lead the Triad with the most COVID-19 vaccinations administered. 

Cone Health pushed back its projected COVID-19 hospitalization capacity date again - this time, to March 28. 

Statewide data:

  • Newly-confirmed cases: 12,079* (probably closer to 4,100, considering the FastMed backlog that just got reported)
  • Percent positive: 14.0%
  • Total cases (including presumed recoveries): 776,307
  • Current hospitalizations: 2,706
  • Testing turnaround: 1.9 days

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2021

8:15 p.m. - Cone Health will begin vaccinating people against COVID-19 in Burlington. 

The clinic will be at the Burlington Manufacturers’ Outlet Center at 2363 Corporation Pkwy. Vaccinations are for those 65 and older.

The COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens Thursday, Feb. 4. Vaccinations will be provided Monday-Sunday from 8-12 pm. Appointments are required.

This provides an additional location for people wanting a vaccination through Cone Health. Those 65 and older are encouraged to join the Cone Health vaccine wait list by going to conehealth.com/vaccine, texting “VACCINE” to 88453 or by calling 336-890-1188. People on the wait list will be notified once an appointment is available. Efforts will be made to offer appointments in Burlington or Greensboro according to the person’s address.

 COVID-19 testing is moving from Alamance Regional Medical Center to the Burlington Manufacturers’ Outlet Center on Thursday, February 4th. Testing hours will be Monday-Friday, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Appointments are required. Go to conehealth.com/testing to register or text “COVID” to 88453.The Alamance Regional testing site will close at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and reopen in the new location on Thursday, Feb. 4.

2:30 p.m. - Gov. Roy Cooper is urging all North Carolina schools to provide in-person learning options for students. 

"It's time to get our children back into the classrooms," Cooper said during a COVID-19 task force briefing on Tuesday. "Students who are ready to return to the classrooms should have that chance." 

State officials said schools can still offer the option of remote learning. 

Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said research in our state has reaffirmed schools are safe for students as long as safety protocols are met. The state released school safety guidelines last summer and updated those guidelines on Tuesday. The guidelines include a Plan A for grades K-5 and a Plan B for grades 6-12. 

RELATED: Gov. Cooper urges NC schools to offer in-person learning option for students

2 p.m. - Gov. Cooper and the task force are giving an update on COVID-19 in North Carolina. 

RELATED: Gov. Cooper to give COVID-19 updates Tuesday afternoon

12 p.m. -- Coronavirus data has improved across the state considerably. 

North Carolina had its lowest daily COVID-19 case count in more than a month on Tuesday. It was also the seventh consecutive day of declining hospitalizations. Presumed recoveries of acute COVID-19 symptoms make up around 90% of total cases. Gov. Cooper and the task force will share a COVID-19 update at 2 p.m. today. The last time the governor spoke, he extended the stay-home order. Since then, data has improved for our state. 

Statewide data

  • Newly-confirmed cases: 2,926
  • Percent positive: 10.2%
  • Current hospitalizations: 2,741
  • Total deaths: 9,409
  • Testing turnaround: 1.7 days

8:45 a.m. -- Guilford County Health Department says all 5,000 COVID-19 appointment times have been booked Tuesday morning. The health department will update the public on when the next slot of appointments is available online.

RELATED: Where to receive your coronavirus vaccine: County-by-county list for the Piedmont Triad

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2021

5:15 p.m. - Mass vaccination clinic to be held at the NC Zoo for those who received their first dose of the vaccine and need their second dose.

Randolph County Public Health, Randolph Health, Randolph County Emergency Management Services, Randolph County Sherriff Department, Prevo Drug, City of Asheboro and the NC Zoo are partnering to provide a second drive-through mass clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday, February 6, 2021, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Africa Entrance of the North Carolina Zoo. The clinic will be administering second doses only for those individuals who received their first dose during the mass vaccination clinics on January 16 & 17, 2021 at the Africa Entrance of the North Carolina Zoo.

1 p.m. - NCDHHS releases latest coronavirus data

Hospitalizations in North Carolina decrease for the seventh consecutive day statewide, percent positive holds steady in single digits statewide. According to health officials, January was the deadliest month for COVID-19 both statewide and nationwide.

STATEWIDE

  • Newly-confirmed cases: 3,776
  • Percent positive: 9.7%
  • Total cases (including presumed recoveries): 761,302
  • Hospitalizations: 2,781
  • Total deaths: 9,342

Key updates:

FACTS NOT FEAR

Remember facts, not fear when talking about the coronavirus. You should take the safety measures recommended by health leaders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Abide by the three W's. That means wearing a mask, washing your hands, and waiting at least six feet from another person. You also want to avoid touching your face and make sure to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw it away.

WHERE YOU GET INFORMATION ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS IS IMPORTANT

It is important to make sure the information you are getting about the coronavirus is coming directly from reliable sources like the CDC and NCDHHS. Be careful not to spread misinformation about coronavirus on social media.

For more information visit the CDC OR NCDHHS website.

NC CORONAVIRUS HOTLINE 

The state also has a special hotline set up where you can call 866-462-3821 for more information on the coronavirus. You can also submit questions online at ncpoisoncontrol.org or select chat to talk with someone about the virus.

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