Cooper presses for more vaccinations
Gov. Roy Cooper and state health and safety officials provide a Sept. 21, 2021, update on the coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina and the state's response to it.
seven covid cases 4381 New cases reported since yesterday, 3464 people in the hospital And sadly 150, people who have died. Most of these deaths now are preventable with life giving vaccines. If you hadn't gotten a shot and you're not yet sick, it's not too late. And if you have had covid but are now negative, a vaccine still gives you great protection against this disease this week, North Carolina marks and encouraging milestone in the fight against this pandemic. 90% of North Carolinians age 65 and older Have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, 87% of them are fully vaccinated. I appreciate the hard work of the north Carolina, Department of Health and Human services as well as local health departments. Doctor's offices, clinics, Faith leaders, hospitals, pharmacies, the National Guard, long term care facilities and more who've helped us reach this milestone as we continue battling this disease. It's good to pause and celebrate achievements like this. Every vaccine given is a potential life saved. But there's more work to do, especially making sure that younger people get shots. Less than half of those ages 12-24 have had one dose and case rates right now are the highest in this age group. We remain laser focused on helping more North Carolinians make that decision to get vaccinated this week. Secretary mandy Cohen and I are sharing a letter with faith leaders asking them to encourage their congregations to get vaccinated and to help us combat misinformation about vaccines and treatment. Some houses of worship have also served as vaccination sites and I hope more will do so. Faith leaders from all religious backgrounds can be trusted figures in their communities. Their word can go a long way and encouraging people in their congregations to talk with doctors and understand that these vaccines are safe and effective. And the north Carolina Department of Health and Human Services healthier together Team can even help these houses of worship sponsored their own vaccine clinics. We're so grateful for all of the faith leaders who are ministering to their congregations by helping to save lives and getting more people vaccinated and we'll continue to support them. However, we can under my executive order north Carolina. Cabinet agencies are working to require employees to verify that they've been vaccinated or either collect their weekly covid test results is positive that many state agencies are reporting high percentages of vaccinated employees. But here again, there is more work to do. We continue to educate employees who have questions about the vaccine or who need help finding a place to get their shots. And I encourage more businesses to follow this example by implementing their own vaccine requirements. It'll make north Carolinians and our economy healthier and help keep your business thriving right now. I'd like to ask dr mandy Cohen, the secretary of the north Carolina department of Health and human services To provide an update on North Carolina's COVID-19 Trends dr cohen, great thank you Governor. Um I want to echo the governor's gratitude to all our faith leaders and I particularly want to thank the more than 5.5 million north Carolinians who've already gotten their first shot so that we can keep people well save lives and get closer to ending this pandemic. Okay with that, let's dive into the data. Our first graph looks at people who come to the emergency department with covid like symptoms. It's our earliest detection mechanism and you can see when looking at the yellow line that it rose dramatically through july and august. However, if you look at that far right there is positive news. This line has started to go down for the first time in a few months. Next we look at new covid cases. This first graph shows you the trajectory of new cases each day. Since we had our first case in March of 2020. The peak in the middle of the graph is back in january of this year. Before vaccines were widely available and now look to the right side of the graph and notice how steep that yellow line was in august and much of september this summer. We experienced the fastest rising cases since the pandemic started. So let's zoom in and look at just the last few weeks in terms of cases On this graph, we're looking at cases from the end of July through today and you can see that our cases remain high. We're still averaging around 6000 new COVID cases each day. And while the numbers are still too high they have been relatively level and are at least not increasing further. Our case rates remain highest for Children 17 and younger. For the week ending September 18, Children made up almost a third of the state's new COVID cases. That's a trend we have seen for the past three weeks. On our next slide, we look at the% July a 10 slightly better but still well above our 5% goal. Our next graph we look at day over day hospitalizations. This graph also starts back in late july and after weeks of increased looking at that yellow line, you can see that this trend is leveling. Unfortunately, people are still getting very sick For close to a month now. We have been near or above 900 North Carolinians requiring intensive care unit beds and a third of all new covid hospital admissions in the past week have been in people under the age of 49 our hospitals are strained and in other states we've seen that care is not readily available for people experiencing non covid life threatening health crises. We don't want that to be the experience here in north Carolina. This next slide looks at what's happening at the local level. It's a map from the C. D. C. That shows the level of viral transmission and as you can see from the map, all north Carolina counties are red with high levels of viral transmission. That means everyone in north Carolina should be following the CDC guidance and wearing a mask indoors in public spaces until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases to at least moderate or low levels. All schools should require mass to keep everyone in school for in person learning Okay now let's turn and look at our vaccinations today, 61% of North Carolinians ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated, 63% of those 18 and older are fully vaccinated and 87% of those 65 and older are fully vaccinated. And as the governor said 90% of those 65 and older have had at least one shot. I want to thank the millions of north Carolinians have already been vaccinated and are protecting themselves their communities and our Children who cannot yet get vaccinated. Our last day to slide today shows the percent of the population fully vaccinated by age group and you can see that only 38% of Children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated and only 42% of young people ages 18 to 21 18 to 24 excuse me are fully vaccinated. I encourage our teens to visit teen vax facts dot com to get the information and resources they need to educate themselves about Covid 19 vaccines. Before I wrap up, I want to spend a moment talking about the decision to get vaccinated for some people. The decision to get vaccinated was very easy for others. The decision to get vaccinated is more complicated and folks still have questions and we know there is a lot of misinformation out there. Please talk with a doctor, a nurse or other medical professional. Go to reliable online health resources like the Centers for Disease Control or your spot your shot dot n c dot gov or participate in a Department of Health and Human services sponsored online event. To be sure you're getting reliable information. You can see our past online events on our facebook page. I want you to get the facts to help you make the decision to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 virus is more contagious than ever and we are seeing it attacked the unvaccinated and make them very sick at an alarming rate. My heart breaks for each life lost for each person living with ongoing symptoms of Covid, even after they recover and for the families, friends and communities picking up the pieces, this doesn't need to happen. More than 181 million Americans have been safely vaccinated Vaccines are safe and effective and saving lives. It is COVID that is making so many people critically ill, leaving many with long lasting symptoms and sadly killing more than 15,000 North Carolinians. If you've already gotten your shot. Thank you. If you haven't yet, I hope you will choose to get your shot now. Thank you governor. Thanks as always, Dr Cohen is positive. That are trends are leveling. But we know that these numbers are still too high. It's up to all of us to do our part to drive them down as we head into the fall with the school calendar in full swing. Let's also work together to keep our commitments to students and teachers the school year, keeping Children safe, healthy and learning while in person and in the classroom. That's the # one priority. We cannot lose sight of that critically important goal. And many are concerned about the fevered pitch that many school board meetings have reached in recent weeks. I am too threats, bullying intimidation. None of this belongs in our public schools, particularly by adults. Remember our Children are watching, they are absorbing everything they see and hear. Even if we think they aren't paying attention. Being civil and respectful of one another is more important than ever as we navigate another. Covid school year. Let's behave the way we want our kids to act. We owe it to them and we owe it to each other. We will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever. And we all want to do it as soon as possible. So let's do it together. Also with me today are our sign language interpreters, lee Williamson and Nicole Fox behind the scenes, Yasmin motivator and Erica Kugler are our spanish language interpreters. We're now here from media who are present in the room with us and then we'll also go to the phones. So, if you guys have any questions, well, start the question. If you guys can go to the side Mics General uh Governor, Good afternoon. Um and for Dr Cohen. So uh johnson johnson today came out with a statement about their booster shot. The FDA just talked about booster shots. We had the hearing last week. Modern has got it. I listened to that very long hearing. I wasn't allowed to ask questions. So I'm here now asking the question, who exactly needs a booster. I got the JNJ shot. And I know I'm not the story here, but I feel like I'm emblematic of a lot of people. The data corny johnson johnson said the current dosage still protects against severe disease and hospitalization. Isn't that the goal? So what do I need a booster for? All right, let's start off and I'm gonna turn this to dr Cohen because I know there's a lot of, a lot of ins and outs of booster shots but it's absolutely clear that fully vaccinated people with any of these three vans brands have great protection against this virus. And we can't let all this booster talk obscure that fact that we are all much safer with the vaccine right now for Pfizer. Uh we are providing booster shots to those who are immunocompromised but all of the rest of it still waits approval and I'm gonna let dr cohen uh talk about that a minute. Um Jonah I think you ask a really important question here and I want to reiterate what the governor said which is a booster shot is meant to extend the benefits of vaccine. But they start with having benefits from those original vaccines that we um and and many many millions of north Carolinians have gotten as you know, I've gotten the johnson and johnson vaccine as well. And those vaccines continue to show um that they are safe and effective at preventing the most severe disease. When the FDA and the C. D. C. Are looking at whether or not to offer a boost or meaning to extend the benefits of vaccine, they're looking to first and foremost make sure that is safe. And I think that's what the studies are showing over and over that getting an additional booster shot is safe. Second then they are looking to understand is that extending the benefits of these vaccines for even longer. And I think that is what um the data is showing. I think we still are waiting to hear from the FDA officially and from the CDC who will be eligible. Exactly for those boosters. We expect it's going to be Just four fighter at first. And it will be for those who got fighter who are likely over 65 likely with more uh likely to have conditions that will make uh getting covid more severe or they work in jobs that make it more likely to be exposed to. Covid. We're still waiting to see what the FDA exactly will define their in terms of boosters, eligibility is different. I mean 35 years old, I'm eligible to run for president. Doesn't mean I'm going to do it. So at 30. So if you're eligible to get a booster that doesn't mean you need the booster who needs the booster? Well I think that's what we're going to wait to see from both the FDA. Remember and the C. D. C. Advisory committee both have to meet and sort of weigh in on all of this. So what I would say and you continue to hear from both the governor and myself that are focused is on making sure more north Carolinians get those first doses of the vaccine. They continue to show that they are incredibly effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. That's what's going to end this pandemic. Of course we want to be able to extend the life of the benefit from vaccines. And we'll wait for further word from the from the feds. Thank you next question. And this follows on the presentation about the metrics? Yes they're leveling. Is there still a concern though about the numbers surging or what does the metrics leveling mean? When we've already now had several weeks of full football stadiums, concerts, large indoor events festivals. And now we've got the state fair coming up. So how does this how does this all mesh? Sure. So I think I would say a small bit of optimism as we see leveling right. At least we don't see our trends continue to increase. I think we need to remain incredibly vigilant. These numbers are still incredibly high. High number of cases, high number of hospitalizations. Our hospitals are already strained. People are exhausted from this. So we do have to do the things we know continue to protect each other vaccines. Number one masks. Number two. Thanks Governor. Finally separate but equal question. But we learned today we got obtained a document from fema that showed that their processing a request for about 50 ambulances and 100 personnel. Uh we spoke with members of your emergency management team saying that yeah, they made the request. Can you shed some light on why north Carolina has been in touch with fema? And maybe what we know about This request being processed right now? Well, first we know that monoclonal antibodies are very effective in people who have mild to moderate symptoms within the 1st 10 days of their infection. It's one of the reasons why I signed an executive order uh requiring more places to offer monoclonal antibodies. I think we have close to 200 now that we want even more places that we can do it, fema offered to try to help states. And we have made a request to fema and I'm gonna let dr Cohen talk about the details of that. So what I would say is we're right in the middle of this pandemic where resources are strained and so when fema offers help we we uh say yes there are certain places where we are have asked for additional help related to ambulances and personnel. Um but I'm sure as as you can imagine fema is getting a request from a lot of states. So um I am hopeful and in some of our early correspondence with them that we will will be able to get those resources but there we have not been approved for them yet. Um but I'm hopeful for that. Um fema has been working with us as the governor said on monoclonal antibody um additional sites. But again that is a a lot of work here at the local level with some assistance from fema. Thanks for the idea though. If you get them where you want to send them. Yeah that was in the request and I can have emergency management team follow up on exactly where and how we would deploy them but it's a very small piece of the overall response in terms of the numbers of of resources that would come from fema. Thank you. Yes. Hi ap Della North State Journal. I have two questions and these might actually be more in Secretary Cohen's wheelhouse. But my first one is on immunizations. Um fighters signaled that they have or will be seeking FDA approval for a vaccine for 5 to 12 year olds are up to 12 year olds And the General Assembly is the only body other than the Public Health Commission that can change K- 12 immunization requirements. So I wanted to know if you your office or Secretary Cohen's office had any intention of requesting that this commission Add the COVID vaccine for K- 12 immunizations. Um, I have a second question that is definitely for okay, we're very excited that five Children five through 11 with this news that the vaccine can be effective for them. I'll let Dr. Cohen comment on the other. Great thank you. You are, you are correct. It is the Public Health Commission. That would be the one that would make those determinations. I think we're still waiting to make sure, you know, I think there are a lot of steps in a process before we would get to that including seeing these vaccines, you know, be available for for our students. So that is the process. But obviously those vaccines are not available yet. So no, no plans at this time. I think we will step through that as we uh as we go forward. Um my other question deals with Union County Schools. Um and you had sent them a letter asking them to change their mind about their quarantine procedures and contact tracing. And I think part of the story that got missed along the way there was that they said that they didn't have the authority to quarantine and that the contact tracing was overwhelming their staff and that the public health department, there should be the one taking lead on that and apparently their public health department has taken the lead on the contact tracing part of it. So I wondered if maybe the toolkit wasn't as for as specific as it should be and if any updates would be coming to the strong schools toolkit. Well, first I want to say that there are a number of protocols in the strong schools toolkit that are incredibly important for the safety protection of our Children and to make sure that they are in school safely. I would say vaccine is number one. Um I really want to make sure that our kids 12 and up are getting vaccinated. Secondly, I think all schools should be wearing mass as I mentioned during our um are going through the data. So I think masks are incredibly important. Um there are responsibilities for our school system in addition to that related to identifying those who may have been exposed to covid and excluding them so that the virus doesn't spread further. We've clarified that in Union County School board met earlier this weekend or in the process of reinstating the work that they have been doing in the past and we need to continue to do. Um, and our team is involved to make sure that gets operationalized. Thank you little follow up on that. A lot of districts are saying that they're having a hard time keeping up with the contract tracing piece. I had at least two school districts here in the triad or two of the districts here in the triad where multiple schools had actual administrative staff aiding their nurses and doing the contact tracing because they were just getting slammed and it was taking away from classroom time and whatnot. Is there any possibility to get them help in some way working with their local health department, working with some other team that can help them to take that contact tracing load off of them. Well first I think you have to go to the root of the issue. We have a lot of virus spreading here in north Carolina but we have tools to stop it. I think you've heard about them over and over I said them. The first tool of vaccinations. Second tool is masks. So I think we all need to and again those of us who are interact with with schools as well as those of us in the community need to get vaccinated if you are eligible and need to wear mask to prevent the spread of virus right? Because the more virus circulating that means there's going to be more virus that ends up in our schools. Um. Yes though we are offering to make sure that we can try to ease the burden of of the work. It's a lot we've all been through a lot in these 19 months and the work is hard. Um so whatever we can do to assist here and it does take all hands on deck um to make sure that our kids can be in in in person and learning safely. I'm so grateful to the schools that are working really hard to try to make that possible and we'll do whatever we can to try to use those burdens. We have some automated tools related to contact tracing that we really encourage folks to use. Um that I think I think helps with some of that burden. Thanks thank you sir Governor brian Anderson here with the ap nearly two weeks ago I asked why you're not compelling districts to offer a remote option and you replied I'm not sure that with the state law as it is now that you can put in a virtual learning option but I will look into that request. What update can you provide on that front? Well school systems can present a virtual option to the State School Board before October one that can be approved system wide. So if local school systems believe that is something that they need then they can do that and put their plan together and this is a week ago. But I ask D. P. I about that october 1st deadline and they told me that there are several dozen places that have some online learning, but zero have Sent in a formal plan due by October one and I know I haven't spoken to a single parent who has told me I love remote learning yet. They, but they say right now, if I'm particularly in a union County or a masculine district, my kid has a near total learning loss right now in no remote learning in in place and they're calling on you to to step in and fill that void. Is it your position? You don't have the ability because of a bill you signed last month. Well, first I can't emphasize enough how important it is for us to have Children in the classroom in person. That's why we agreed to the legislation. It's why we provided the the toolkit for the school systems to require masks and to do the things that they need to do to protect Children and teachers in schools. So that's the number one priority. Yes. I do believe that parents, if there, if they want to have a virtual option, they should be able to have a virtual option. And it's one of the reasons why in the legislation that schools school systems can make the decision to request a virtual option. You don't see a role within your office to mandate that we certainly will work with schools, Will the state Board of Education uh that I have appointed members to that board are ready to work with schools on virtual options. But as I say, we we really believe that clearly students not being in the classroom has been detrimental to them. We need to keep them in the classroom and if we take the steps to keep them safe, we can keep them there. The rest of school year parents I've spoken with first and foremost, make it clear they blame their local school board for this first and foremost. Uh but having said that, do you feel like you have any responsibility in the tens of thousands of hours of learning loss? We're seeing right now. So we've spent a lot of our effort working on vaccinations and getting school systems to protect the Children in school because that that we know how important that is. I certainly would be willing to try to help with the state Board of Education helping local schools establish a virtual option. But like I say, we want our Children in the classroom. I think this might be for you or dr cohen? I'm not sure. But can you you mentioned the Executive order for vaccinating state employees. Can you just sort of walk us through some of the numbers and which agencies are seeing the best and worst rates of employees vaccinated. I think a lot of those have been made public record. I don't have them right in front of me but we know that we have a lot of agencies that are in the 80s and even better than that. You know the goal is to get everybody vaccinated. And the idea is that we want to require these vaccinations and get state employees to verify that they have been vaccinated. And if they do not that they get tested every week in order to protect if they're not vaccinated to protect other state employees and to make sure that if they get covid that they can be treated earlier in the process. So we're still working with state employees educating them. Many of them are coming around to get shots, will continue to update the data and let you know the percentages. There are other state agencies outside of the governor's cabinet that had begun this process. And we're keeping up with that too. And that's good. And we want to encourage state agencies, we want to encourage businesses uh vaccine requirements can get more people vaccinated. That's what gets us to the end of this pandemic. So we can stop having these press conferences and stop talking about this and and move forward. And I think everybody is ready to do that vaccines will get us there. Gotcha. Thank you. Yes. Governor. I want to ask about monoclonal antibodies. Travis fame with W. R. A. L. Uh the feds. It sounds like our restricting that more on a state by state basis because of the surge in demand. There was a report yesterday, I believe that Tennessee is recommending they only be available to people who are not vaccinated or thus at greater risk for real complications. First I'd like to know how is our supply versus demand? Do we have enough? How is that going to work going forward? As we as we do we order it like we did the vaccine back in the day and then second, is there any consideration right now of moving to something like Tennessee has done where only unvaccinated people may end up being able to access it. So we know these monoclonal antibodies are very effective with people in the 1st 10 days with mild to moderate symptoms. And it's one of the reasons we pushed them out. It's one of the reasons we requested a lot from the federal government a week or so ago. They changed the process so that the state now has much more control over getting the monoclonal, anybody's out. I do not believe that we have taken any steps to restrict them in any way. We continued to ask for more. There have been some supply issues, but I'm gonna let dr cohen give her opinion on this. Hi Travis. So um yes, so pretty abruptly last week, the federal government changed the way in which the ordering of this treatment happened. The good news is is that we still got more doses allocated to north Carolina than we used in the previous week. And just today we learned we're going to get more than we got last week. So right now I feel okay about supply. So we haven't needed to impose any additional, um, restrictions on who would be eligible for this treatment. We want folks to get it early. It does work. It keeps folks out of the hospital. It is from mild to moderate symptoms of covid. But I do want to mention that, you know, the best way to protect yourself against covid is vaccines. So we don't wanna lose sight of that. And I'd also like to ask about ventilation, particularly in schools when the system, the system is mostly opened a few weeks ago whenever it was, there wasn't a lot of focus on ventilation and then it seems to have ramped up some, uh, because parents push for it in some cases holding fundraisers. Is there any feeling that we were too reactive on ventilation on lunch outdoors, things like that? Or do you feel like you've said it's part of a layered strategy with max and vaccines. Do you feel like we've got the layers right, particularly given the amount of money that we have, uh, at school systems. I want to turn it over to my boss to comment as well, but Travis, you took the words out of my mouth, which is, I think it is one strategy amongst many that we need to layer together to make sure we're protecting students. I think ventilation is a component of it and we do recommend within the toolkit wherever possible. Opening windows, having lunch outside. Um, but redoing ventilation systems is quite pricey. You know, it's very inexpensive masks. Um, so, you know, we want to use those very effective, inexpensive strategies. Um, we want to go for vaccines, vaccines also free. So anyone over the age of 12 should get their free vaccines. Everyone should be using mass. But layering additional strategy, I think is exactly the right um, direction for folks to go and we continue to hope that they'll layer on those protections. My question then, how do you feel like we're doing on the low hanging vaccine fruit? You know, certainly short of redoing an entire ventilation system. We have work to do on vaccines. And I think that's why the governor and I are here today continuing to talk about it. We visit every week different sites to make sure folks know I want teens to go to teen vax facts to get more information. Hope we are able to work with our faith community, uh, to get more vaccines. But we have more work to do. I may have said vaccine, but I meant to say ventilation. How are we doing with the low hanging fruit when it comes to ventilation? Well, I think I think that those kinds of interventions with a ventilation system are expensive and take time. I think the easy things opening windows going outside. I think those we can certainly layer in more and more. Thanks. Did you have anything further down? No. You know, we've we've got so many strategies that we can use to keep kids safe in school and we encourage schools to do everything that they can ventilation included. And I know many of them have taken steps uh to do that and uh we're going to continue to be focused on keeping those kids safe in school. Yes. Um Got some vaccination questions and only one budget question um with the shr give me the eight of the 10 cabinet agency vaccination rates at the end of last week. Um Do you all know the DHHS and commerce numbers yet? And as far as the percentage, the lowest of those eight is public safety. So are there any measures being taken as discipline been decided on those that don't comply with either the vaccination or testing for GPS and the other agencies? One of the good things about this verification of vaccination and pushing people to do it is that you can find out more easily where you are. And clearly in our law enforcement community and our corrections officials community that we have a lot more work to do. I know that uh the interim secretary and her team and our office are talking about strategies, uh not just the requirement for letting us know about the vaccine and the testing, but also some positive reinforcement things that we could do to encourage more people to get it. And particularly in our corrections community already, we've had challenges with filling those positions and we've up to pay and those things are positive, but we need to get more of those officers who I'm grateful for risking their lives and serving our state, protecting our state. We need to get them vaccinated. So this requirement has given us this percentage and given us targets to make sure that we concentrate on. So is it is corrections because I think within that the data I gotten was that the FBI vax rate was pretty high. So his corrections driving the low overall Gps, it's probably the most concerning because we know that there's close quarters and uh congregated populations there. So we really want to work on those percentages. So, and it's more on incentives versus discipline at this point with those employees. Well, you know, we're going to right now we're setting up discipline procedures for people who do not do the vaccination or the testing. And there are some employees are beginning to fall in that category and we're looking at further discipline. But we also need to encourage our employees to get these vaccines and we're working on ways to do that. What um you mentioned with brian's question that they were non Cabinet agencies or time out council state agencies that have started doing this and what are those? So I believe the Department of Justice, the Secretary of State? Uh There are several others dr Cohen, you remember uh there are a couple of more but we can we can get those to you and dr Cohen, do you know the DHHS vaccination right yet? And commerce is still outstanding for someone. Yeah. So the reason that the DHHS numbers, we were using a different system to track as as you know, in health and human services, we are healthcare providers, we have hospitals, nursing homes in those settings, folks are required. So we go beyond just the verification you are required to get your vaccines were using a slightly different system in that case by the end of this month, folks need to comply um with with those requirements or have had a conversation about some sort of religious or other civil rights exemption. So we were just using a different system. So I believe we'll be able to update our our data by the end of this week. I don't I don't have in front of me but um I do know, you know, we always want to do better in terms of getting everyone vaccinated. So we're not at 100% from my entire department but we are we are doing well and we can update data later this week. One more vaccination related question. But from the federal standpoint is can we get some clarity on the does the biden directive for private employers also include like local government and what's what's the state's role here? Is it just under labour to to deal with that? So I so some of this is we need to understand what the labor rule will be that will come out from the Feds. We hear it will be the beginning of October before we will know the parameters for that. I believe their jurisdiction is over independent businesses that are 100 and above. I do not believe that applies to state government as you know, under the governor's leadership, we are already complying with what those rules are likely to look like. Um but we'd like to see all businesses frankly be moving in this direction. Um but I believe the labor rule that will come out will not apply to government employees, which is why the biden administration um put in their own requirements for the federal employees. We have ours here for state. Okay. All right. And then just one budget question for the governor. Um So last week Speaker moore said that they want to send you the conference budget this week. And then today, Senate leader Berger said it's probably looking like next week. So once, once the chamber sorted out and get it to you um before passing it. How how long do you think that negotiation process will take? And when would you like to sign the budget into law by? So I want to, I would like to sign a budget as quickly as possible. Uh We have had conversations and have had staff level conversations during this time. So yes, they are negotiating with each other but also we are ready to move once they do present a budget to us. And you know, I think this will be a unique situation is something that hasn't happened before. So it's it's hard to predict what will happen. I just hope that all of us can approach this in good faith and that we can find a way forward and realize that there have to be compromises on on each side to be able to get where we want to get. And I think I've said time and time again what my priorities are is getting north Carolina is covered with health care, making sure we invest in a sound basic education for our Children and making sure that we pay our educators more. I have concerns about tax cuts and so we'll go into those negotiations knowing what my priorities are. And I think I've gotten a pretty good idea about what there's are there are a lot of things that we agree on so well. I look forward to those intense discussions that I know we'll be having. I hope soon last in like a week range a couple of weeks. Hard to know. It's really hard to know, Halloween budget thanksgiving budget. I don't think we know at this point we'll do it as expeditiously as we can. That's for sure. And are there any things in there that I mean not everyone is going to be happy with what they get. Are there any absolute deal breakers or is there a commitment between the three of you too keep negotiating until there's some sort of consensus. I think all three of us have maintained that all issues are on the table and I think that's important as we go into these conversations. Hi Governor Michael Highland from Cbs 17. I want to clarify about the requests dealing with the ambulances from fema uh to help with the monoclonal antibody treatments. Is that the only purpose they would have or might they also help with the issues that we've been covering. Where some E. M. S. Agencies have been dealing with shortages? Yeah, I know there are some other requests in there. Dr Cohen do you want to deal with that, Michael? I'm not sure which request you are referring to because there are there are a couple of requests of fema um one related to monoclonal antibodies, One related to our for E. M. S. Personnel. And so let us follow back up with you and make sure you get the right information. These are separate issues you are trying to address. There are two different issues. Uh And then Governor, you had brought up the issue that we've seen recently at some of the school board meetings um, in some of the behavior that we've, we've seen from some of the parents there, the law that you signed that contained the provision requiring the monthly vote on masking? Do you regret signing that in any way? Or do you think there need to be some changes to that law? You know, that law provided a lot of other issues that we believe were important to move forward. And we know that the very small, vocal minority of people who show up at school board meetings to fight mask requirements are gonna be there anyway. So we are continuing to encourage local boards to adopt mask. The vast majority of them have, we know too, we've seen in Union County that when you have masked, you have less need to quarantine students and you keep students in the classroom. So I'm glad to see these school boards are doing the right thing and understanding that this is a minority of people, they are very vocal but they are a minority of people and that the majority of the people in these counties, particularly parents, educators and students support this. Thank you. We go to the phones. Now, our first question on the line is from Ashley tally with WRL Yeah, hi thanks for taking my call after also taking Travis's, we along with the M. S. Staffing personnel with the hospitals requiring vaccinations for their personnel? We're seeing consorted, Is there, is there any concern that the public should have about if they have a heart attack or a um you know other surgery scheduled that they're not going to be people there to staff the hospitals that are needed. Well I know that Dr Cohen and her team, our team, we've been in constant contact with hospitals and they have worked well in managing their caseload. We have not seen issues like in other states there's always a need for health care personnel and this is not any different. But I think that these healthcare systems have done absolutely the right thing in requiring their employees to get vaccinated. Uh It's something that a patient should expect. It's something that protects people that they treat. So they've done the right thing. And I think at the end of the day it will be a very small minority but we've got to continue to invest in education and community colleges and workforce training to get people into these fields into the healthcare fields like nursing because we know that the supplies for those kinds of personnel are critical and uh we'll keep working to help them. But the vaccination requirement is the right thing to do. And uh I think it will end up in better treatment for and safe for patients. Next question we have a follow up Ashley tally W. R. E. O. Mhm. Thank you. And one other quick question perhaps for Dr Cohen um We know that At least close to 200,000 people have gotten the first dish of uh one of the two day sex scenes and not yet received their second within the recommended six weeks. This is also have a plan to address that with people. Are you are you doing these sort of outreach with them or um you know, is there a plan to address people that are getting the full cycle George? Thanks Ashleigh. So what we are seeing a very, very high compliance rate with when someone gets the first uh dose of the vaccine for them coming back to get their second dose. I think it's upwards of more than 90% of folks are coming back. If we don't see someone come back in there a lot of time. Yes, we are doing outreach to remind them to come back to get that second vaccine again, you're not fully vaccinated if you've gotten a Pfizer or Moderna until you get that second vaccine. So yes, we are doing more to make sure that folks complete the series and are fully vaccinated and thus fully protected. Thanks. And actually we're contacting and calling people uh, if we see that they have not gotten a second one, sometimes it doesn't show up and in our records because they may get a shot somewhere else. But there is, there is work to make sure that people follow up and get that second shot. Next question please. Our final question that will conclude today's briefing is from Rose Hoban with north Carolina health news. Hi Governor. Hi Dr Cohen. Thanks for taking my question. Um You may may not be able to answer this. Um This really it's about GPS. You know we've been uh we've been hearing about outbreaks in the prison and we know that vaccinated inmates who have been exposed to covid at state's prisons are tested when they're symptomatic. But we know that there are a breakthrough infections that occur and these people could inspect others and um you know they might not have any symptoms. So why isn't every inmate exposed to covid tested regardless of their vaccination status? Uh Dr Cohen. Okay so Rose a couple of things we can follow up with the specific protocols that are used at DPS but let me back up and talk about the virus spread. Um So when someone is vaccinated there are cases where they are getting a so called breakthrough infection. But what we haven't seen is if someone has been vaccinated they don't have any symptoms. We haven't seen that someone then continues to spread that that virus. So I think it is very very it's not, I'm sure it is possible but the risk is incredibly low. Um If you've been vaccinated and if you're not having any symptoms about you transmitting that to others. Now it's why we continue to wear masks and be protective. Um But it is really when a breakthrough infection is showing uh symptoms again which would trigger a test which which would trigger other protocols in D. P. S. Um So I think there are different situations here so we can go through with you um Offline the protocols for um how how they're handling that in the corrections uh space as well. Thanks. Thanks everybody for being with us today. Mhm. Yeah. Yeah. Mhm. Mhm. Yeah. Mhm, mm. Mhm.