While COVID-19 cases are decreasing statewide as the vaccine rollout continues, North Carolina hit a grim milestone Tuesday, surpassing 10,000 deaths from the virus.

In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen emphasized that much more needs to be done to get the vaccine to the state’s Black and Brown residents. Cooper said that 18 percent of vaccinations have been given to Black residents, which is up from 11 percent four weeks ago, but that the state still has a way to go given North Carolina’s population is about 22 percent Black. 

Cooper also said North Carolina would receive a 5 percent increase in vaccine doses from the federal government and could get even more if a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved.

“We know there’s still not enough vaccine supply to vaccinate the millions of people who need it,” Cooper said at the press conference. “We’re pushing for more.”

Cooper and Cohen say their number on priority still is to get schools back open again. 

Since the onset of the pandemic in March, the state has had more than 802.000 cases of the virus. As of Tuesday, 10,046 people have died. Nearly 2,,400 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19.

There is some good news, though: the number of new cases reported daily has been decreasing, from a peak of more than 10,000 a day last month to 2,786 new cases reported Tuesday. The percent of people testing positive for COVID has also dropped from a record-high of 18 percent to just over 9 percent as of this week.

And though the state is still vaccinating in groups one and two, nearly 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered to health care providers, the elderly, and those in congregate living settings. The vaccine is expected to become more widely available in the coming months.

This is a developing story. 

Follow Interim Managing Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com

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