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August 23, 2021

Due to the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, North Carolina is experiencing the fastest acceleration in cases since the pandemic started. Last week, we had the largest single-day jump in ICU admissions since the beginning of the pandemic.  If cases keep increasing at the current rate, we will pass our previous peak, which occurred in January before vaccines were widely available, in a matter of weeks. The Delta variant’s high rate of transmission leaves unvaccinated people very vulnerable.   

Testing is Widely Available: Anyone who has symptoms of or has been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible. To find a testing site in your community, go to who are not experiencing serious symptoms should not go to the emergency department for routine COVID-19 testing. People should seek medical attention immediately for serious symptoms such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips or face.  

Early Testing Essential to Accessing Treatment: While vaccines are the best protection against serious illness, hospitalization and death, monoclonal antibody therapy can reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and decrease the likelihood of hospitalization, especially in high-risk patients. If you test positive for COVID-19, monoclonal antibody therapy must be administered within 10 days of your first COVID-19 symptoms, so it is crucial to get tested early.  

Vaccines Are Protecting Against Hospitalization and Death: The CDC shared new data this week showing that vaccines continue to be remarkably effective in reducing risk of severe disease, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant. North Carolina hospital leaders have shared that almost everyone in the ICU and on a ventilator is unvaccinated. Bottom line is that vaccines save lives. More than 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in North Carolina.  

Immunocompromised People Can Now Receive Additional Dose of Moderna/Pfizer Vaccines: The CDC recommends that immunocompromised individuals who received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines get an additional dose for better protection from COVID-19. Emerging data suggest some people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems do not always build the same level of immunity after vaccination compared to people who are not immunocompromised. 

Boosters May be Available by Late September: Although vaccination provides highly effective protection against hospitalizations and severe illness, we are seeing a decrease in vaccine effectiveness against mild to moderate infection—people getting sick but not severely ill and needing hospitalization. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced planning is underway to support booster shots for the general population. Boosters will likely be available beginning the end of September, pending full review and recommendations by the FDA and CDC. People who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will likely be eligible, starting 8 months after their second dose. Research is still underway regarding boosters for Johnson & Johnson. 

You Are a Vaccine Ambassador: If you are already vaccinated, talk with your unvaccinated family and friends. Share your experience, help them get accurate information, and urge them to get their shot now. It could save their lives. Use our communications toolkit and videos 

Visit for accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine. We need to layer up our protection to fight this more contagious Delta variant and weather the storm: Vax up, Mask up and urge others to do the same. 

UpdatedGuidance since the last update includes: 

·        Updated Guidance for Events and Festivals and CDC Large Gatherings Planning Toolkit for Health Departments 

·        Updated Guidance: Vaccines (specifically Statewide Standing Orders for Pfizer/Moderna and J&J

Carla West
Senior Director for Economic Security
North Carolina State Child Support Director
Division of Social Services, Economic and Family Services, Child Support Services
NC Department of Health and Human Services
Office:  919-855-4405
Mobile: 919-971-0605