Friday, May 14, North Carolina health officials released some updated numbers for COVID-19 that showed a great deal of progress.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced relaxed rules on COVID pandemic regulations which required residents of the state to wear masks and maintain social distancing which the state determined was six feet.

The latest daily “percent positive rate” in the state – the percentage of those people tested for the virus who get back positive results – is now at 3.8 percent.  Local and state health officials see the 5 percent line as an important one. In order for officials to feel confident about opening school classrooms and allowing other normal activities in the state, they want that positivity rate under 5 percent.

The number of people hospitalized in the state on May 14 was also low at 926.  For weeks, that number has been hovering at or above 1,000 and to see it come in well under the 1,000-mark has a lot of people smiling.

 In mid-January, about 4,000 people in the state were hospitalized due to the virus.

Also on Friday, in light of the numbers and new federal guidelines, Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced that fully vaccinated individuals are allowed to do most activities without wearing masks or social distancing.

The changes went into effect at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

The number of vaccinated state residents continues to increase although new vaccinations are not being conducted at anywhere near the pace at the start of the process in December 2020.  There is plenty of all three vaccines to go around, however, there are fewer takers than there were right after vaccination became an option.