Here’s today’s update:

  • First, some very encouraging news from Operation Warp Speed today: the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced an agreement with Pfizer, Inc. for the large-scale production and delivery of its COVID-19 vaccine should it receive approval from the FDA.  The agreement means the federal government will own 100 million doses of the vaccine with an option to obtain an additional 500 million doses.  This agreement means that production and delivery of the vaccine will occur as fast as possible if the FDA issues an emergency use authorization (EUA).  Should a vaccine be developed and available by January as many experts expect, it would be the quickest turnaround on record.  For perspective, the average time it takes to develop and produce a vaccine is four years.  

    The goal of Operation Warp Speed, as laid out by President Trump and Secretary Azar earlier this year, was to do everything possible to speed the development, testing, production and delivery of hundreds of millions of doses of an FDA-authorized, safe and effective vaccine.  This agreement is an important step toward reaching that goal.

  • The CDC has updated its guidance to determine when an individual is no longer believed to be infectious and can end self-isolation. The CDC is now recommending a symptom-based, rather than test-based, approach to determining when isolation can end.  “Available data indicate that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset,” the CDC says, and can therefore end quarantine.  “For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset1 and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms.”  More information from the CDC is available here.

  • The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that it is delivering personal protective equipment to agricultural workers in 31 NC counties, including Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Johnston, Pender, Sampson and Wayne Counties.  Deliveries will include more than 900,000 masks and other supplies, including hand sanitizer and cloth face coverings for workers to take home.  More information from DHHS here.

  • North Carolina has also updated its COVID-19 Dashboard to include more detailed information about hospitalization trends and hospital capacity, both statewide and regionally.  Additional data includes:
    • Case and death counts searchable by county and ZIP code;
    • Case counts by date reported or date of specimen collection;
    • County map of ongoing outbreaks in congregate living settings; and
    • Rollover functions to see daily numbers.
    • Visit the NC DHHS Website here for more info.
  • The Wilmington Police Department is warning of a new scam.  Citizens are receiving calls from numbers associated with the Wilmington P.D., asking for money in lieu of being arrested.  These calls are scams, and the Department reminds citizens NOT to send any money and to report the scam to 910-343-3609.

  • Not directly COVID-related but still important information for many, particularly seniors:  The Social Security Administration has announced it will be launching a new, standardized Benefit Verification letter.  This will provide Social Security beneficiaries with easy-to-access, standardized proof of…
    • Income, if applying for a loan or mortgage
    • Medicare health insurance coverage
    • Retirement status
    • Disability
    • Age, and more.

The new letter will be phased in across the SSA’s service outlets over the remainder of the summer.  Please contact my Four Oaks office at 919-938-3040 if you have questions or for more information.

For today’s good news story, I’m highlighting Eggs Up Grill in Shalotte, Brunswick County, which is maintaining a “sunny-side up” attitude about business despite the COVID outbreak.  Though it had to shut down just weeks after opening due to the virus, it has since been able to re-open and bring its employees back to work through the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL) authorized by the CARES Act.  “We were only open for two and a half months before COVID hit,” said owner Brandon Padilla.  “We had not even really gotten a chance to build up a name for ourselves or a local following.  These programs or funds we received prevented us from struggling with any expense you can think of that goes along with owning and running a restaurant.  Rent, payroll, utilities, and product are some of the things that the money was utilized for to help us get reopened and operating to full capacity again.”

It’s a great story of one of the many businesses that have been able to survive the crisis by utilizing the Paycheck Protection Program and the EIDL program authorized and funded by the CARES Act.

As always, stay tuned to and the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ website for the latest on the outbreak.