COVID, Vaccine Updates from NCDHHS Deputy Director

Cary, NC — Yesterday the Cary Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual event full of updated information on the COVID-19 virus and vaccine rollout in Cary and across the state.

The Chamber Eye-Opener series event included a panel of the Chief Medical Officers of WakeMed, Duke, and UNC REX Hospitals and kicked off with remarks from NCDHHS Deputy Secretary, Kody Kinsley.

Kinsley Says Trends are in the Right Direction

Kody Kinsley, Deputy Director of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

As Deputy Secretary, Kinsley has served as the state’s COVID-19 Operations Lead throughout the pandemic.

“I think COVID-19 has changed the way of life for many folks and we expect these changes probably to have impacts that long outlast the virus just in how we’ve all adjusted to it,” said Kinsley, “but the good news is that our trends are moving in the right direction.”

Current Numbers and Trends on the Virus

As of Wednesday, February 24, we are down to a case rate of about 176 cases per 100,000 people in North Carolina.

That’s down from a peak of 582 the week of January 9, 2020. Kinsley says this considerable decline over the last several weeks is something that epidemiologists believe is tied to coming out of the holiday season where, despite the stay-at-home order, many people traveled and gathered.

“We paid a price for that,” said Kinsley, pointing to the NCDHHS dashboard that shows the “hill of deaths” that came during that time.

With the gatherings now happening less and having a high number of people who have already contracted the virus, Kinsley says the virus is spreading a bit slower.

“While those are promising indicators of where we are headed, it’s really important for us not to lose our vigilance,” said Kinsley.

Where We’re Headed

Governor Cooper’s announcement of Executive Order 195 yesterday will lift the modified stay-at-home order and ease certain restrictions on businesses and gatherings starting Friday this week.

On this, Kinsley said it will create more freedom that must go hand in hand with continued prevention efforts with masks and distancing to avoid future lockdown measures.

State Vaccination Rollout Data & Plans


On the topic of vaccines in the state, Kinsley says providers across the state are working day and night to get vaccines in the arms of citizens just as fast as they are coming in.

“All of the vaccines provide really phenomenal rates of impact and what we’re seeing for folks who have been vaccinated in trials is zero hospitalizations due to COVID, zero reports of severe disease due to COVID and that’s really amazing,” said Kinsley.

Here’s the latest data on the vaccine rollout in North Carolina:

  • NC providers have administered roughly 2 million vaccines
  • This week K-12 teachers, school employees, child care workers, bus drivers, etc. became eligible
  • Last week the state received 200,120 doses
  • Next week, that is expected to increase by 30,000 doses

“The demand remains incredibly high, but we are seeing improvements in supply. The new administration of the federal government has increased supply 76% since taking office,” said Kinsley.

On the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Kinsley says the earliest they are expecting to receive vials would be the week of March 8th. It will go going through the FDA and CDC processes from late this week until early next week before being allocated out to NC.

The two key benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are it’s more flexible storage requirements and it only requires a single dose.

As the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine increases, Kinsley says the state will also increase the number of vaccination providers, and a move towards more independent practitioners and pharmacies. The goal is to allow anyone to get vaccinated wherever they usually would go to get other immunizations like the flu shot.

Story by Ashley Kairis. Photos from the live, virtual event and the NCDHHS COVID dashboard.

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