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

Case count passes 1 million

At least 1,001,154 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 13,078 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 738 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, down from 849 the day before. The latest count meant North Carolina on Thursday passed a grim milestone, recording more than 1 million cases since the start of the pandemic.

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

At least 694 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Friday, up from 681 the day before.

As of Wednesday, the latest day for which data is available, 3.8% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 53% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and 48.8% are fully vaccinated, according to the state health department.

COVID metrics improve in Mecklenburg

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Friday coronavirus metrics in the area are “looking as good as they have since the beginning” of the pandemic.”

The rate of positive tests fell to 3% in the last week, The Charlotte Observer reported. But Harris warned the virus still poses a risk to unvaccinated people.

About 45% of Mecklenburg residents were fully vaccinated as of Thursday night, compared to 42.9% of all North Carolinians.

“We know we still have a lot of work to do to get these numbers even higher to prevent further spread of COVID in our community,” said Dr. Meg Sullivan, the county’s medical director.

Downtown Raleigh businesses hope for recovery as restrictions ease

As some employers think they will start bringing workers back to offices in June, downtown Raleigh businesses are looking toward recovery.

Some have struggled to stay afloat in a year marked by protests and about 42% of downtown employees working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, The News & Observer reported.

Even as people return to the Glenwood South nightlife district, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance said parts of downtown that are home to office buildings aren’t recovering in the same way.

“Let’s face it, downtown has been a bit of a ghost town,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said. “What we’re seeing now is things starting to perk back up, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I’m optimistic.”

COVID vaccination center provided 143,659 vaccines, state says

A vaccination center in Greensboro that targeted under-served communities has closed after providing 143,659 vaccinations to Piedmont Triad residents and others from across the state, Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.

“It was a model that showcased the best of local, state and federal partnerships,” Cohen said in a news release by the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

The center operated for three months, backed by FEMA, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local agencies, officials said.

“Of the 116,363 doses administered at the Four Seasons Town Centre, more than 23% went to Black or African American individuals, who make up 23% of North Carolina’s population,” according to the release. “And more than 16% went to people from Hispanic/LatinX communities, who make up almost 10% of the state’s population.”

Others received vaccinations at related sites in Alamance and Forsythe counties.

North Carolinians needing a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can find a vaccination center at myspot.nc.gov.

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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.

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