We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

Cases surpass 993,000

At least 992,578 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 12,911 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 622 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, down from 688 on Monday.

Twenty additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported Tuesday. Deaths don’t all occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as information becomes available.

At least 820 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Tuesday, down from 821 reported the day before.

As of Sunday, the latest day for which data is available, 5% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 51% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 46.6% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

Wake schools to pay teachers thousands to work in summer program

Wake County school system teachers who agree to work in a new summer learning program will be paid $45 an hour.

The district’s school board on Tuesday voted to allow people to receive thousands of dollars if they work in the state-mandated program, which is designed to address learning loss during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pay is meant to encourage teachers to work during the summer and is higher than what most district workers earn, The News & Observer reported Wednesday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to host weekend vaccine clinics

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is offering COVID-19 vaccines at clinics set to be held this weekend at seven locations.

Through partnerships with health care providers, the district is offering shots by appointment and on a walk-in basis. The vaccination clinics are scheduled for Saturday at Hopewell High School, JT Williams Montessori School, McClintock Middle School, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Rocky River High School, South Mecklenburg High School and Windsor Park Elementary School.

More details about the vaccine sites are available here.

The clinics are planned as roughly 42% of Mecklenburg County residents have gotten at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and about 37% are fully vaccinated.

As vaccine supply exceeds demand, Mecklenburg County Deputy Public Health Director Raynard Washington said the challenge moves to reaching residents who aren’t seeking out the shots and reducing barriers to getting them, The Charlotte Observer reported Wednesday.

Protesters call for ending face mask mandates in schools

Dozens of people gathered outside the Wake County school system headquarters on Tuesday to call for ending the face mask requirement in North Carolina schools.

Though Gov. Roy Cooper eased mask rules in many settings, schools and child care centers are among the places where face coverings are still required to be worn indoors, The News & Observer reported.

Students, school workers and visitors have been required to wear masks all school year. Wake and other districts lifted outdoor mask requirements after the state health department said they were optional outside.

On Tuesday, protesters said it was abusive to continue to make children wear masks, and speakers called for the district to at least send the governor a letter requesting that the face coverings be optional.

Changes to mask rules impact some graduation ceremonies

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hasn’t changed its plan for upcoming graduation ceremonies since Gov. Roy Cooper lifted the statewide mask mandate and eased restrictions on crowd sizes.

But other school districts have updated their plans, and at least one is still deciding, The Charlotte Observer reported.

CMS is limiting guests, requiring face coverings, keeping social distancing measures in place and restricting the capacity at each venue. Mooresville Graded School District, meanwhile, has switched back to its traditional graduation ceremony. Cabarrus said it won’t be changing any plans, while Iredell-Statesville lifted capacity limits.

Union County Schools hasn’t made a decision yet.

Carowinds gets ready to reopen

Some safety measures will remain in place when Carowinds reopens on Saturday, despite eased restrictions in the state.

A park spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer that officials and parent company Cedar Fair in Ohio are reviewing the new safety protocols and that “things are fluid.”

But for the time being, guests still need a reservation to enter the amusement park. They will also be given a health screening, and masks will be required anywhere indoors. Some rides where people can’t socially distance will remain closed.

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Hayley Fowler is a reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking and real-time news across North and South Carolina. She has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining the Observer in 2019.

Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.

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