A closer look at what it will take for NC to ditch masks entirely


RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — As North Carolina is set to remove many capacity limits and restrictions by June 1, it appears a ways off from reaching Gov. Roy Cooper’s goal of 2/3 of North Carolina adults receiving vaccines to remove a mask mandate.

Through Wednesday, 49% of adults in North Carolina are at least partially vaccinated, a figure that trails behind the national rate of 54.5%. The state has seen a sharp drop in vaccinations; North Carolina providers administered more than 500,000 doses in a week for the first time earlier this month, but during the week of April 19, administered fewer than 300,000 doses. More troublesome, the bulk of those doses were second shots, meaning fewer people are signing up.

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“This is a new turn in this (illness). And the one thing that we see from everybody with COVID is the people who are coming in with severe disease, all of them are not vaccinated,” said Dr. David Kirk, the System Chief Medical Officer for WakeMed.

Though North Carolina has earned praise for its efforts in vaccinating its 65-and-older population, it’s struggling to reach younger people.

“We see young people come in every day with very severe illness. They’re coming in and being required to be on the ventilator for weeks,” Kirk said.

To reach 2/3 of adults, North Carolina would need to administer vaccines to about 1.3 million more people, which would equal about 40,000 a day to hit the mark by June 1. During the week of April 19, state and federal providers combined to administer 126,604 first doses, which equals 18,086 per day. At that rate, it would take nearly 2 1/2 months to reach 2/3 of adults.

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