Feb 10, 2021

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript February 10

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript February 10
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsNorth Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript February 10

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference on coronavirus on February 10, 2021. He announced that teachers and childcare workers will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine this month. Read the full transcript of the news briefing here.

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Governor Cooper: (01:21)
Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you for joining today’s update on COVID-19 in North Carolina. As of today, we have had 805,898 lab confirmed cases, 3,833 new cases reported since yesterday, 2,291 people in the hospital, and sadly, 10,181 people who’ve died. As always, our prayers are with those who’ve lost loved ones or who are still battling this virus. Today, we want to share an update on the next phase of our vaccine effort. Right now, providers are continuing to vaccinate healthcare workers, longterm care residents and staff, and people aged 65 and up. It’s critical to get this age group vaccinated as more than 80% of our COVID-19 deaths happen to people ages 65 and up. People in these groups are still getting first and second vaccinations, and that will keep happening even after the next phase starts.

Governor Cooper: (02:28)
Now we can share what’s next on the timeline. Beginning on February the 24th, the state will expand the eligibility to Group Three essential workers, starting with educators and school personnel, and then expanding to additional Group Three frontline workers on March the 10th. This gradual approach will allow the state to balance the number of people in Group Three with the limited supply, ensuring that North Carolina can continue using its entire vaccine allocation each week. So what’ll happen on February 24th, educators will be the first members of Group Three to be eligible to receive this vaccine as frontline essential workers. This will include teachers, principals, childcare providers, bus drivers, custodial staff, cafeteria workers, and other education workers in our pre-K through 12 schools and childcare centers. The state anticipates that this will include about 240,000 people.

Governor Cooper: (03:37)
Now, this is important. Essential workers are just that, essential. They have worked throughout this pandemic and we know that educators can continue to work safely even before the vaccine being administered as long as schools follow state health guidance. Schools can get students back in the classroom safely right now, and that’s what I want them to do. And our childcare providers have remained open since the beginning of this pandemic to care for children as parents went to their jobs. I am grateful to all of our educators and school personnel for going above and beyond in this pandemic. Starting with a smaller number of Group Three frontline essential workers helps providers streamline vaccine distribution effectively and efficiently. Providers will be able to start distributing the vaccine methodically for these essential workers while continuing vaccinations for those 65 and older and healthcare workers who are still eligible.

Governor Cooper: (04:48)
Moving to the next phase is good news. The challenge continues to be the very limited supply of the vaccine. I’m proud of North Carolina’s success in getting all of our first dose shots in arms each week before the next shipment comes. We want to keep that up. As of last night, the state has administered almost one and a half million vaccines, and we’re continuing to push for more. Yesterday, the Biden administration told governors across the country that each state would receive 5% more vaccine, which amounts to about 7,500 more doses in North Carolina this week. The more vaccines we can get, the better off we are, and we’re going to keep pushing for that every day. Now, I know that people are frustrated and more than ready for their vaccine. Everybody should get one and it’s important, and I know a lot of people want to be next. I look forward to the day when it’s my turn.

Governor Cooper: (05:54)
I appreciate the hard work of our healthcare workers across the state to quickly and fairly get these shots into people’s arms. In the meantime, there are still steps we must take to keep ourselves and each other safe. You’ve heard us say it many times before, but it’s because it matters so much, wear your mask anytime you leave your house, stay six feet apart, wash your hands. If we double down on our prevention efforts, we can save more lives even before vaccines help us turn the corner on this pandemic. And I want to recognize our Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen. Dr. Cohen.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (06:42)
Thank you, Governor. As Governor Cooper noted, because vaccine supply continues to be so limited and our Group Three population of frontline essential workers is so large, we’ll need to move to that next group gradually. Therefore, beginning on February 24th, frontline essential workers who work in childcare or in pre-K to 12 schools will become eligible for the COVID vaccine. This includes staff in childcare centers and homes, headstart programs, preschool and pre-K programs, traditional public schools, charter schools, and private schools. Anyone who must be in-person like teachers, bus drivers, van drivers, custodial, and maintenance staff and food service worker will be eligible to take their shot. Over the next two weeks, we will continue to vaccinate those 65 and older and healthcare workers as we also work with our partners to develop operational guidance, to support childcare and school staff in accessing vaccines.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (07:44)
It’s important to note that our current prevention measures in schools and childcare settings will not change. The Childcare Strong NC Public Health Guidance has allowed childcare programs to be open and nurturing young children throughout this pandemic, and I want to give a huge shout out to all our childcare staff for their hard work and commitment. Our strong schools and See Guidance also remains in effect. Schools can and should be providing in-person instruction under robust safety measures. All students can be in classrooms with middle and high school students also following six feet of social distancing protocols. Studies continue to reaffirm that strong prevention measures like the ones we have for North Carolina schools work. As we shared last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited North Carolina as an example that schools can reopen safely, even during periods of high community transmission when they follow the specific COVID-19 safety protocols.

Dr. Mandy Cohen: (08:48)
Even with the thousands of students and teachers attending in-person school across the state, we’ve seen few COVID-19 clusters in our public schools, and I’m grateful to my girls’ teachers here in Wake County and the school staff who’ve gone over and above to implement safety protocols so they could attend in-person school this year. As we move forward to vaccinate North Carolinians quickly and equitably, as the Governor said, supplies remain extremely limited, but we hope to have another vaccine approved and available soon. We will plan for additional frontline essential workers who become eligible for vaccine on March 10th. Keep up the great work, doing the three Ws, wear that mask, wait six feet apart, wash your hands off, and be sure to visit yourspotyourshot.nc.gov for accurate information. You will have a spot to take your shot. Thank you, Governor.

Governor Cooper: (09:48)
Thanks Dr. Cohen, your leadership is really appreciated. Also with me today as our Secretary of Public Safety, Eric Hooks. Our Emergency Management Director, Mike Sprayberry, is also with us, Monica Peggie and Brian Tipton are our sign-

Governor: (10:03)
… Also with us. Monica Peggy and Brian Tipton are our sign language interpreters. And behind the scenes, Jasmine Matevia and Erica Coogler are our Spanish language interpreters. We’ll now take questions from the media. And if you could identify yourself and your organization, we will go ahead and take the first question.

Speaker 1: (10:24)
Our first question is from Richard Craver with the Winston-Salem Journal.

Richard Craver: (10:30)
Fellow our governor, Secretary Cohen, this was Richard Craver with the Winston-Salem Journal. So when it comes to March 10th, do you have any list of priorities of which essential workers may start on March 10th? Or is that a situation that you’re going to open it to all essential workers at that point?

Governor: (10:48)
One of the things that is important to note is that everybody deserves a vaccine. And when you have tremendous demand, millions of people needing a vaccine in North Carolina but you’re dealing with thousands of shots, then that is a very difficult thing to do to prioritize. I think it’s been important that we’ve gone into our long-term care facilities and their staff, that we’ve gotten frontline healthcare workers, and people 65 and up, because over 80% of the people who have died have been 65 or older.

Governor: (11:28)
That’s been important, but it’s also been a lot easier for vaccine providers. Because age is a simple thing, and whether you’re a healthcare worker in a nursing home. This essential worker category is much more complicated because it’s a lot of people who are doing very important frontline jobs. And we’re really grateful for that.

Governor: (11:49)
One of the reasons why we’re beginning this with smaller groups at a time is they’re going to have to figure out their methodology and their systems for being able to set up things, whether it’s going to schools or other places to get these vaccinations into people’s arms. And I think that that is an issue that the healthcare team is going to look at as to whether they can open up all of the categories, whether they have to go to another sub-part. I think that’s something that they will be figuring down the road. Anything to add to that, Dr. Cohen?

Dr. Cohen: (12:33)
Hi, Richard. The only thing I’d add is remembered, as a governor and I keep saying, the supplies are incredibly limited. And so we will see how supply looks as we move over the next number of weeks. Now, the Biden administration has given us slightly more vaccine each and every week. And “we know that the FDA is now reviewing a third vaccine.

Dr. Cohen: (12:53)
So we’re hopeful that we’ll be able on March 10th to make more of our frontline workers illegible, but we really have to look at the supply at that time and then make further decisions. We know we’re going to start with the groups we announced today, our teachers, and our childcare workers, and other support staff in our pre-K to 12 schools. But then again, we really need to be looking at our supply to make sure that we can meet the demand that is out there. Thank you.

Governor: (13:27)
Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 1: (13:30)
We have a follow-up. Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal.

Richard Craver: (13:35)
One quick followup. Of the list that we’ve been using for the central rule three worker, has any of that changed related to today’s announcement in terms of the categories?

Governor: (13:46)
No, it has not. We’re continuing to operate off of the same system. We’ve stuck very closely to federal guidance, and we know that federal guidance has changed a lot over the last few months. But what we’re trying to do is to set these dates, to give our providers the time to operationalize all of this. I think things are moving fairly smoothly now. I know people are… There’s not enough spaces for everybody that wants a shot still. So I know that there’s frustration with getting appointments and trying to sign up grandma or a father.

Governor: (14:23)
And I know that those issues can be frustrating, but there’s more supply coming. The providers are out there working. We’re continuing to add on more providers. And hopefully as more supply comes, we can get everybody that shot turn the corner. Next question, please.

Speaker 1: (14:43)
Our next question is from Laura Leslie with WRAL.

Laura Leslie: (14:49)
Hi, governor. This is Laura Leslie with WRAL. Thanks for taking my question. So here in Wake County, we only have vaccinated about 45% of the people, 65 and up, at this point. I keep hearing you say, and Secretary Cohen say, that teachers don’t need to be vaccinated to reopen schools basically. So why make this move now? Why not wait until more of your 65 and up population has received the shot?

Governor: (15:17)
Well, this is one of the reasons why the state is not making this move until February 24th. That gives the state two more weeks to vaccinate those 65 and older as the supply is increasing. We do know that we want to get to our frontline, essential workers, as soon as we can. And waiting two more weeks though, to continue to build on that 65 and older, and making sure we get more and more of them vaccinated is an important part of this.

Governor: (15:55)
We want everybody to be vaccinated so everybody can be safer, but you’re right, we believe schools can open safely right now as long as health protocols are followed. But all the other essential frontline workers are also doing their work now because it needs to be done. And this state is going to work hard to make sure everybody gets vaccinated at the end of the day. Want add anything to that? Next question, please.

Speaker 1: (16:28)
We have a follow-up. Laura Leslie, WRAL.

Laura Leslie: (16:31)
Just a quick follow-up. Thank you. We’re hearing a lot of concerns from rural communities saying that they feel like there’s these mega sites going on in these urban areas like the Triangle in Charlotte, but in the meantime, the rural areas feel like they’re not getting just a handful of shots really a week. Are you considering reconfiguring the way that you’re distributing the vaccines?

Governor: (16:55)
Well, first, nobody’s getting enough. Everybody says they can use more vaccine from rural to urban. And one of the things we believe was very important is that every county get vaccines and that we pay attention to our rural areas as well. And I’ll let Dr. Cohen pay a little more attention to that on detail.

Dr. Cohen: (17:20)
Hi, Laura, I’ll reiterate what the governor said, which is we recognize there are so many of our vaccine providers that could be administering more vaccine, there just isn’t the supply. So the way we are allocating our vaccine is, first, the vast majority of it in the baseline is strictly distributed based on county population. That ensures that all 100 counties are getting vaccine proportional to the folks who are in their county.

Dr. Cohen: (17:46)
So yes, our rural communities that do serve less folks do get less doses, but we are using our population again to make sure we’re getting to everywhere. We do give a slight increase for those who are serving more folks, who are over the age of 65 and are low income and come from a historically marginalized populations.

Dr. Cohen: (18:05)
We spent a lot of time yesterday talking about equity as part of our strategy. That comes in our allocation methodology, but it also comes in the events that we support. And as you have seen over the last number of weeks, we’ve supported events in all parts of the state, from Duplin County to something in Charlotte. So we are trying to really get that geographic distribution and in how we are getting vaccine out to everyone. But again, I know the frustrating thing is if we do not have enough supply. And that is exactly why, as we move to our frontline essential workers, we want to do that in a thoughtful and gradual way. Thank you.

Governor: (18:49)
Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 1: (18:52)
Our next question is from Laura Lee with Carolina Public Press.

Laura Lee: (18:57)
Good afternoon, governor. It’s Laura Lee with Carolina Public Press. We’re talking about equity and fairness, and we have seen accounts of people skipping line in groups one and two. And I’m just wondering, as we’re expanding, the list of providers as announced yesterday, what mechanisms are in place to keep people from saying that they’re frontline essential workers, I guess specifically educators are working in childcare? What mechanisms are in place to keep people from doing that and skipping line?

Governor: (19:27)
Well, first, the state is allowing locals some flexibility, and we’ve seen a lot of situations, particularly with this vaccine requiring cold storage, and the fact that once you take out a bunch of it, you have to put it in people’s arms before it goes bad. And the state has continued to say to them that, “Look, we want you to make sure that you get vaccines in people’s arms.” We recognize that once you move away from age-based and get into what people do for a living, that it makes it harder. We…

Governor: (20:03)
-do for a living that it makes it harder. We are strongly encouraging the providers to follow the state guidelines, and that includes not only getting all of the shots off of the shelves during the week that you have it so that we can get more of an allotment, but also being equitable about how you are distributing it. The state can use that allocation process. If someone keeps violating the rules or if someone keeps doing it wrong or doesn’t perform the right way, then the state can use that process. But I will let Dr. Cohen expound on that.

Dr. Cohen: (20:46)
Hi, Laura. As you may remember, a number of weeks back, the governor and I asked the boards of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and others who work with us to develop a process for anyone who was having egregious violations of these prioritization protocols. So we do have a process in place, and so if folks are seeing any reports of flagrant violations of skipping the line, you can report that to our team. We will go through a process of investigating that and, if need be, circling back with both that provider, whether is it just education that they need, or is there something more, as well as working closely with our boards, as I said, of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and others to make sure if there’s any other additional action that needs to be taken, that we will.

Dr. Cohen: (21:33)
So what we have seen so far is that our providers are really working hard to get to our 65 and up population. I think they’re doing an excellent job, and they’re doing it equitably. We do want to be alerted if there are these flagrant violations, particularly want to understand if anyone is using this for financial gain. These vaccines should be free, and so if anyone is doing any sort of selling of these vaccines or selling a place in line, that is certainly something you want to flag to our department. Then we would be investigating that. Thank you.

Governor: (22:13)
Next question, please.

Operator: (22:16)
Followup, Laura Lee, Carolina Public Press.

Laura Lee: (22:20)
Thanks for that. I guess my question was actually a little bit more about the sort of less nefarious instances, and I’m just wondering logistically, as people present to their healthcare provider, the vaccine provider, and say, “Hi, I’m here as an essential worker,” I mean, under the current guidance, it doesn’t appear there’s any identification required. What mechanism is there to preclude not necessarily the provider doing the kinds of things you all are talking about, but individuals who are showing up and saying, “I work in this field or that field,” what kind of check is there on the logistics of that to make sure that people are in the categories that are currently eligible?

Governor: (22:59)
Obviously, you’ve got to rely somewhat on people’s honesty. These providers will be having days where certain groups of people, where they might work in one particular place, and that would naturally limit the field. At the end of the day, we need to get shots in arms. I don’t know. Some localities may be more rigid on this than others. We want to get the shots in arms. We want to get them to the right place. I’ll let Dr. Cohen say something else on that.

Dr. Cohen: (23:38)
Just one more piece on this, Laura. The other way in which we’re actually using some of our operational tools, sort of as the governor was saying, is that as we work with frontline essential workers, obviously, they have an employer. That allows for a partnership between the vaccinating provider and the employer, who can identify their employees. So I think those partnerships will be helpful. We’ll have a portal that will allow employers to upload and pre-register their employees, so I think there are going to be some of those functions that will help. But, again, I think we are asking folks to understand that we have very limited supply, to really abide by these prioritizations. Everyone will get a shot, but we have to use these prioritizations, given the low supply that we have. Thanks.

Governor: (24:29)
Thank you. Next question, please.

Operator: (24:32)
The next question is from Brian Anderson with the Associated Press.

Brian Anderson: (24:37)
Hi, Governor. Hi, Dr. Cohen. Thank you for the time. I had a two-parter for you, just kind of elaborating on the previous question. That’s helpful information about the partnerships, but is there going to be any ID requirement for people to prove their employment status? Other than the fact that I’d like to pride myself on being an honest person, is there anything that would prevent me from lying and going in person, even if it’s not my turn? Also, just as far as eligibility, we’re hearing struggles still of the appointment-making process for those who are 65 and up. Is it possible that a teacher would be able to get an appointment before someone 65 and up under this plan?

Governor: (25:25)
[inaudible 00:25:25].

Dr. Cohen: (25:27)
Hi, Brian. Right now we do not have an identification requirement. Again, we want to make sure that we are moving things along with speed and equity here. That is what we intend to do. So there’s no ID requirement, but you may have to show identification in a particular location, depending on that provider. As far as the appointment process, we know that this can be frustrating for folks. Again, it’s often because there’s just not enough supply, not enough appointments. But I know that we’re getting better and better week over week at being able to streamline the kinds of ways in which folks are getting appointments. We continue to look into the future for how we can do better at streamlining appointments as we go forward. Thanks.

Governor: (26:18)
Next question, please.

Operator: (26:22)
Our next question is from Dawn Vaughan with the News and Observer.

Dawn Vaughan: (26:26)
Hi, Don Vaughan with the News and Observer. Can you explain why you changed course on this now, moving teachers to the beginning of Group 3, when, of course, childcare workers have been in person this whole time and another of these essential frontline jobs? Then when that opens to them, will a 65-year-old still get the first available appointment, or are they just in that same pool with everyone else in Group 3 once that starts?

Governor: (26:53)
A lot of that depends on the provider. All the way through, we’re going to continue vaccinating people who are 65 and over. I think providers know that they are a priority because they are at greater risk of death. As this vaccine process has gone along, I think providers have figured out that when you have a methodology and a process that things can go more smoothly. I think there has been concern about all of these essential frontline workers in a big group in Group 3 all of a sudden crashing into the system, that that would be problematic. So I think the vaccine team, everybody together thought that it would be positive to take a subgroup of the frontline essential workers and begin that subgroup earlier in order to make sure that the process of doing this was working, because it’s different from age. Also, you’re going to be dealing with employees at certain businesses, at schools, at childcare centers, and to have this two weeks to get that set up I think will be positive. Then they will be able to move to other frontline essential workers. Next question, please.

Operator: (28:22)
Followup, Dawn Vaughan, News and Observer.

Dawn Vaughan: (28:25)
Hi. Thanks for the followup. So is the timing of this related to urging schools to open under a plan A or B? Then when the educators and everyone that works in the school building are able to be vaccinated, are there going to be central county sites to make sure that that’s done easily, logistically for all of them?

Governor: (28:47)
First, it’s important to note that the research and the scientific and health evidence shows that you can safely have students in the classroom as long as the safety and health protocols are followed, even without vaccinations right now. It’s one of the reasons why Dr. Cohen and I and the health team have been encouraging local school systems to begin getting our students back into the classroom in a safe way. Since that announcement, we’ve seen a number of local school systems that have begun to set dates and put the processes in place to get the students back in the classroom, following the healthcare protocols.

Governor: (29:36)
At the end of the day, we want everybody vaccinated, and we want all of the workers vaccinated. But these people who are in frontline essential jobs are doing just that, essential jobs. They’re out there right now, and all of them need to be taking safety precautions. We’re encouraging employers for them to take safety precautions, even not being vaccinated, but as soon as we can get everybody vaccinated-

Governor: (30:02)
… vaccinated. But as soon as we can get everybody vaccinated, the better off that we will be. And that’s why we’re continuing to fight for supply while we have set up, I think, an efficient system to get this out as quickly, effectively and equitably as we possibly can. Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 2: (30:26)
Our next question is from Dwan Hobbar with WTVB.

Dwan Hobbar: (30:32)
Good afternoon, Governor and Secretary Cohen. Dwan Hobbar with WTVD. Just in terms of logistics, are we going to see teachers and other educators be vaccinated at their schools or at their respective districts? I feel like that would probably perhaps eliminate on any sort of dishonesty for someone who does not belong in that group. Have you guys looked at that, and if so, what would be the plan for that?

Governor: (30:59)
This is one of the reasons why we’re giving this notice before it starts on February 24th. It’ll be a combination of all of that, but I’ll let Dr. Cohen talk about that specifically.

Dr. Cohen: (31:15)
Thanks, Dwan, for that question. And yes, over the next number of days, we have started looking at operational guidance, but we certainly want to make sure that we’re getting input from our schools and our childcare workers, as well as our vaccinating providers. And I think there’s going to be a range of ways in which folks partner to do this work. I think sometimes there will be opportunities to go onsite to the school itself. Others, they’ll create a teacher day or a childcare worker day, and we want to make sure we’re facilitating partnerships.

Dr. Cohen: (31:42)
I know we intend to make sure to, for example, use our smart start infrastructure that already works very closely with our childcare providers. And I want to thank them for continuing to work throughout this pandemic. I think those will help us in these operations here, but I think there’ll be a number of ways in which folks will ultimately be able to access vaccine. And we have, as the Governor said, it was important to make the announcement today so we can get that work underway.

Dr. Cohen: (32:09)
We still have two weeks ahead of us of vaccinating those who are 65 and up. And I want to reiterate that just because folks become eligible on February 24th, it does not mean that that is the day you’re going to get an appointment. And in fact, are vaccinating providers may already be thinking and have longer wait lists for folks who are 65 and up, and we’ll continue to vaccinate our 65 and up population. So, we know this is going to be a gradual process, we know the supply is low, and you’ll see different ways in which teachers and childcare workers are going to access this vaccine. Thanks.

Governor: (32:46)
Next question, please.

Speaker 2: (32:49)
Follow up. Dwan Hobbar, ABC 11.

Dwan Hobbar: (32:54)
Thank you. And just to be clear, does that mean that there is not a specific plan in place just yet for how that will be handled? And then, additionally, with the 240,000 that you mentioned earlier and also the number of people 65 and up who have yet to be vaccinated, do you guys have a target date in mind for when you see both of those groups being fully vaccinated?

Governor: (33:17)
There are plans being made right now to make sure that those essential workers and others can be vaccinated, but I’ll let Dr. Cohen talk a little bit about the targets.

Dr. Cohen: (33:36)
Yes. Hi, Dwan. As I was sharing, we are going to continue to be vaccinating those who are 65 and up, and we know that our vaccinating providers have wait lists. We know that the group of our teachers, our bus drivers, cafeteria workers, or childcare workers, it’s about 240,000 people. Remember, that the state in total gets about 150,000 first doses week over week. So, we know it would take a number of weeks, but we also are still vaccinating those who are over 65. My goal is to make sure everyone in those categories gets a vaccine and get that quickly and equitably. But it’s going to take us some time because the supply is limited. Thanks.

Governor: (34:21)
Thanks. Next question, please.

Speaker 2: (34:25)
Our next question is from Kim Kane with [inaudible 00:34:28].

Kim Kane: (34:30)
Good afternoon and thank you for taking my call. I appreciate it. Dr. Cohen, we’ve been talking with Polk County officials. They say they had been talking with Mike Sprayberry, the emergency management director for the state about holding a large side here. Could you speak to how soon this could take place? They’re in talks at this point.

Governor: (34:52)
We’ve got Mike Sprayberry here, so we’ll let him come up and answer that question. Mike is our emergency management director.

Mike Sprayberry: (35:03)
Yes, thank you for that question. And at this point in time, as Madam Secretary and the Governor have noted, the supply of vaccine is limited. So, it’s being very judiciously placed in certain community vaccination events. And the equestrian center has been placed in Polk County on a list of counties that are willing to provide a vaccination site when we get the appropriate number of vaccine and it falls into the plan. Thank you.

Governor: (35:39)
Next question, please.

Speaker 2: (35:42)
Our final question today is from Tina Terry with WSSC.

Tina Terry: (35:48)
Hey there, thank you so much for taking my question. I wanted to find out if educators with comorbidities will be given priority over other teachers in this plan. And also, are there specific vaccine providers who will be assigned to work toward vaccinating these teachers?

Governor: (36:10)
First, it’s important to note that teachers who are 65 and over, or any of these frontline essential workers, 65 and over, are eligible, but I’ll let Dr. Cohen answer the rest of that.

Dr. Cohen: (36:26)
Hi, Tina. The Governor is exactly right. Anyone over the age of 65, already eligible if they’re a teacher, a childcare worker, and I’d also remind folks, we also have medical personnel, like our school nurses who are already eligible for vaccination. But we are not sub-prioritizing within those groups. So, any one of our teachers or our support staff, our cafeteria workers, bus drivers, as I mentioned before, they are all eligible starting on February the 24th.

Dr. Cohen: (36:56)
And again, you’re going to see a range of ways in which folks do get their vaccination. Sometimes, like I said, it will be working with a specific vaccine provider, it may be the local health department, it may be one of their hospitals, it may be a pharmacy in their district. I think we’ll see a number of ways. And again, we’ve already been working with our partners on developing this operational guidance. You’re going to see that develop. It’s why we’ve given ourselves this time to continue to prepare and make sure that we can move into this next phase in a gradual way while we also are vaccinating those who are over 65 and our healthcare workers. Thank you.

Speaker 3: (37:35)
There’s a follow up [inaudible 00:37:36].

Dr. Cohen: (37:35)
Tina, you had a follow up?

Tina Terry: (37:40)
My final question, where did you find the additional vaccine that allows you to move forward with vaccinating educators in group three?

Dr. Cohen: (37:53)
Thanks, Tina. Week over week, we get new shipments from the federal government. We get about 150,000 new first doses week over week. The second doses come in a mirror to that, a few weeks later. And actually, over the last number of weeks, the Biden administration has increased our allocation bit by bit. We were about 120,000 a week. Now, we’re about 150. Next week, we’ll be 155. So, we are getting a little bit more each time.

Dr. Cohen: (38:20)
The additional piece here is we are hopeful that a third vaccine will be reviewed and approved by the FDA soon. That could certainly also increase our supply of vaccine just at a time where we definitely need it. We want to get to more people. So, we’re looking forward to having more supply. As the Governor continued to mention, he is advocating all the time to the federal government to make sure we can have more vaccine here.

Dr. Cohen: (38:47)
The CDC has represented that North Carolina is vaccinating at a very quick rate. We have used more than 90% of first doses week over week over week. And that’s where we’re going to continue to do because we need more supply here. Thank you.

Governor: (39:05)
Thank you all for joining us today. Stay safe out there.