RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley provided an update Thursday on the state’s COVID-19 metrics and trends.

As North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics continue to move in the right direction and with vaccines widely available, Governor Cooper encouraged schools and local governments to end their mask mandates.

“We are taking a positive step on mask requirements to help us move safely toward a more normal day to day life,” said Governor Cooper. “It’s time to focus on getting our children a good education and improving our schools, no matter how you feel about masks.”

As entities decide how to move forward, people and businesses should continue to make the best decisions for themselves, their employees and their customers. There are still some places, such as health care, long-term care and transportation like airplanes, where a mask will be required because of the setting or federal regulations.

As it has throughout the pandemic, North Carolina is adapting its response based on the data and for the current stage of the pandemic. Vaccines and boosters are widely available and have protected millions of people against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Treatment is available for those at higher risk of severe disease. And the state’s COVID-19 trends are decreasing, lowering the risk of infection, and improving hospital capacity.

“NCDHHS has always been committed to using the right tools at the right time to combat COVID-19 and chart a course for us all to get back to the people, experiences, and places we love,” said Secretary Kinsley. “At this time, the most effective tools are vaccines and boosters. Everyone five and older should get a COVID-19 vaccine and everyone 12 and older should get a booster as soon as they are eligible. It’s not too late to vaccinate.”

To date, North Carolina has administered over 15.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 71 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. About 75 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 96 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over. About 51 percent of eligible adults have received their booster shot.

North Carolinians can learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Find a nearby vaccine provider using NCDHHS’ online tool, Find a Vaccine Location. The state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline number is 888-675-4567.