‘I’m concerned about our younger population’ Cohen says as transmission rate rises

North Carolina level of county transmission
North Carolina level of county transmission(NCDHHS)
Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services secretary provided updates on the state’s COVID-19 numbers as Tuesday marked one year since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered.

Cohen said it is “quite the milestone” to have reached one year since the first vaccine dose was given, but still acknowledges that there is a lot of work to be done.

The work Cohen spoke of especially concerns the vaccination of people as they gather for the holidays. She noted: “I am still worried about our hospital capacity,” as the Omicron variant is in North Carolina and reportedly more contagious (albeit less severe), COVID-19 survives more easily in the winter, and it is flu season.

Cohen also specifically pointed out the low rate of child vaccinations as a reason for concern.

“I’m concerned about our younger population,” Cohen said as only 17% of children ages 5-11 in the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Forty-six percent of North Carolina people ages 12-17 have been vaccinated.

Cohen showed data that says the percent of positive COVID-19 tests and hospitalizations are both up since the middle of October. Because of the rise in numbers, Cohen says the majority of North Carolina is now in the CDC’s red zone, indicating a high level of transmission of the virus. Only a few counties are the level below: “substantial.”

Data shown at the press conference also said 94% of seniors (ages 65 and older) have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Cooper echoed Cohen’s sentiments about staying diligent in keeping the state’s population safe from the virus, saying, “What we have to do is rely on the science, the data, the experts.”

Cohen said the pandemic is going to continue to evolve, but as she prepares to step away from her post at the DHHS at the end of the month, she is confident in her replacement Kody Kinsley, current DHHS chief deputy secretary for health and lead for COVID operations, and the entire department’s abilities in her stead.

Cooper encourages North Carolina residents to get vaccinated and to get their boosters.

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