We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

More than 1,700 hospitalizations reported

At least 1,071,137 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 13,736 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday reported 4,506 new COVID-19 cases, up from 4,331 the day before. Thursday’s case count had been the highest in a single day since mid-February, The News & Observer reported.

Twelve additional coronavirus-related deaths were reported on Friday. Deaths don’t necessarily occur on the day the state reports them. The state health department revises its daily figures as more information becomes available.

At least 1,715 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Friday, up from 1,651 on Thursday. Patient counts have been rising each day since July 9.

As of Wednesday, the latest date with available information, 10.6% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 62% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 58% have been fully vaccinated. State health officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.

Michael Bublé postpones NC concerts

As COVID-19 continues to spread, Michael Bublé moved the dates of concerts in Charlotte and Raleigh.

“I do not want to put my fans at risk, nor my band and crew, by putting them in a situation that could possibly affect their health and therefore their friends and family,” the singer said in a statement. “It is better for me to reschedule these shows to a time when all of us are confident that we can relax and enjoy the show.”

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Michael Buble, seen in Charlotte in 2013, has postponed his upcoming Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville, SC concerts again because of the pandemic. Jeff Siner [email protected]

Bublé had been scheduled to perform twice this month in North Carolina. He is now set to take the stage on Oct. 24 in Charlotte and Oct. 26 in Raleigh, according to the Spectrum Center.

Airline with CLT, RDU flights mandates employee COVID vaccines

Frontier Airlines, which has flights at the Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham airports, said Friday that its employees must fully vaccinate against COVID-19 by Oct. 1.

A nationwide rise in COVID-19 cases – specifically the delta variant – prompted the move, according to the Denver-based airline.

“The time has come to do what we can to help put an end to COVID-19,” the airline said in a statement.

Frontier employees who opt against the vaccine, or can’t get vaccinated, will regularly need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, airline officials said.

The announcement came hours after United Airlines became the first major U.S. airline to mandate its employees be vaccinated, by Oct. 1, or get regularly tested for Covid.

Cawthorn criticizes school district’s mask mandate

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn on Thursday slammed a Western North Carolina school district’s mask mandate.

“Forcing our children to wear a mask is nothing short of psychological child abuse, period,” the Republican told officials at Buncombe County Schools. “Their social skills are stunted.”

He spoke at a school board meeting after the district approved requiring students and workers who hadn’t been vaccinated to mask up when children go back to classes on Aug. 23.

Buncombe County, home to Asheville, is labeled as an area with “high” COVID-19 transmission. People in those places are urged to wear face coverings indoors, even if they have gotten vaccinated.

On Friday, the county government ordered its workers to wear masks and unvaccinated staff be tested weekly for the virus, the (Asheville) Citizen Times reported..

State Board of Education approves new guidelines regarding masks

The N.C. State Board of Education on Thursday approved adopting new guidelines that recommend mask-wearing in schools.

The new Strong Schools Public Health Toolkit from the state health department no longer requires that the face coverings be worn. The board voted 9-2 to make the change, which some members said is risky for students as COVID-19 continues to spread through the state, The News & Observer reported.

“I can’t in good conscience approve of this toolkit in that it recommends and does not require mask wearing in the schools, and so the very thought of even one kid becoming sick is just too much for me to bear,” board member James Ford said.

The toolkit also says children who wear masks don’t need to quarantine if one of them contracts the virus.

“This is a really important change and a big deal for schools that want to keep kids in in-person learning and not having them have to quarantine due to exposure,” Susan Gale Perry, chief deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, told the board. “The critical component here is mask wearing for students.”

UNC System schools told to tell workers to vaccinate, submit tests

UNC System President Peter Hans on Thursday said schools should tell their workers to get vaccinated or be subject to weekly COVID-19 testing.

“I think it’s reasonable, both for public health and for leadership by example, to ask our faculty and staff to comply with the same protective measures we are asking of our students,” Hans said on the university system’s website.

The message came after the UNC-Chapel Hill Faculty Executive Committee approved a resolution to require employees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or get tested on a regular basis.

Percentage of breakthrough infections in NC is small

The percentage of COVID-19 cases among vaccinated people in North Carolina is small, officials said.

From January to July 22, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services said there were 7,297 potential breakthrough cases. That’s a fraction of the more than 4.9 million North Carolinians who had been vaccinated as of that same week in July, data show.

“The increase in breakthrough cases is due to the current surge in cases and also includes potential breakthrough cases from earlier weeks that were not identified in previous linkages,” said Bailey Pennington, a state health department spokesperson.

About 94% of deaths and 92% of coronavirus cases reported since May 6 have been among people who weren’t fully vaccinated, The News & Observer reported.

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Simone Jasper is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer and real-time news in the Carolinas.