We’re tracking information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back every Thursday for updates.

3,000 new COVID cases reported

At least 3,477 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, down from 4,039 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 335 new weekly COVID-19 hospital patient admissions, a drop from 396 the previous week, according to figures through April 1, the most recent metrics available. The daily average of adult coronavirus patients in intensive care was 52, compared with 56 the week before.

The figures were released Wednesday, April 5, a week after the state health department announced it was updating its online coronavirus dashboard to include data about the flu and other respiratory illnesses.

Data shows roughly 78% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 74% have finished an initial round of vaccine doses. Of the state’s total population, about 63% finished their initial round and about 68% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination metrics to the nearest whole number and update them monthly.

“Out of all people who have finished their initial vaccines in North Carolina, 59% have been vaccinated with at least one booster, and 22% with an updated omicron booster,” the health department wrote on its website. Officials have urged those who are eligible to get boosted, as data shows it offers increased protection against the omicron coronavirus variant.

What to know about long COVID and heart issues

For some people who contract COVID-19, heart problems can linger long after recovering from an infection.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz of Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital told McClatchy News some patients have experienced heart-related symptoms soon after their infections but said most patients don’t have lingering cardiovascular issues.

“A COVID-19 infection can directly damage the heart,” said Krumholz, a scientist and cardiologist. “The virus itself can cause damage or the body’s response to the virus can cause damage. It seems the inflammation in other parts of the body can also affect the blood vessels and inside the body.”

Studies have suggested that people may have a higher chance of developing a heart condition called POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) following a COVID-19 infection and that the “most prevalent” category of long COVID symptoms impacts the “heart, kidney and circulatory systems,” McClatchy News reported March 30.

Other long COVID symptoms may include breathing problems, chest pains and brain fog. But for heart-related symptoms, “we have yet to really isolate the underlying cause or to determine best treatments,” Krumholz said.

COVID vaccines ‘low priority’ for some kids, WHO says

Vaccines to protect against COVID-19 are now “low priority” for children who are healthy, while other groups could benefit more from additional doses, experts at the World Health Organization said.

The organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) announced new guidance on vaccines March 28 as it cited the “high amount of people who have some form of immunity from COVID-19 infection and vaccination, and the omicron variant’s impact.”

Dr. Diego Hijano of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Department of Infectious Diseases told McClatchy News that SAGE is “trying to establish some basic guidance for countries all over the world, irrespective of what their income is and what their level of development is.”

“They’re also looking at the biggest picture and saying kids that are this young will benefit more from other vaccines,” for measles, chicken pox and other diseases, according to Hijano, an infection disease specialist.

Read more about the WHO’s vaccine advice here.

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