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Cooper updates NC COVID-19 status ahead of Group 5 vaccinations

As more people continue to get vaccinated, Cooper anticipates loosening more COVID-19 restrictions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One day before North Carolina opens its COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults 16 and older, Gov. Roy Cooper and members of the state's COVID-19 task force provided an update on the rollout Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, April 7, North Carolina will allow any person age 16 and older, regardless of medical conditions or living situation, to schedule their COVID-19 vaccination as part of the Group 5 rollout. As of Monday, North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services said 25% of the state's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 38% is at least partially vaccinated.

As more people continue to get vaccinated, Cooper anticipates loosening more COVID-19 restrictions.

"The more people we vaccinate the more we can safely do," Cooper said.

If data continues within healthy limits, Cooper anticipates issuing a forecast outlining what restrictions could look like come the Fourth of July weekend.

Supply is finally growing and Gov. Cooper says soon, anyone who wants a shot will be able to get one. More vaccines are being offered more places and state officials are anticipating a roadblock.

"Pretty soon we're going to be pushing encouraging people to get it because we do know at some point we’ll hit that peak of supply exceeding demand," Gov. Cooper said.

He said they'll be depending on trusted doctors, ministers, public figures and regular people to talk to their hesitant family and friends about the importance of getting vaccinated.

At one point, there may be fewer mass clinics. 

"As we get more and more providers involved in this, this will help us with hesitancy I believe because people trust their physicians. We think this is going to be an important part of getting people vaccinated," Gov. Cooper said.

Minority groups are historically hesitant. The CDC giving the state more than $94 million to help community-based organizations and fund programs to increase vaccination rates in minority communities.

Health Secretary Mandy Cohen cited continued progress on closing gaps.

"This past week, 19% of first doses went to people who identify as Black of African American and 10% went to Latinx,"  Cohen said. 

Atrium Health has found that meeting people where they are with its roving clinics and sitting down and having one on one conversations can help.

"A lot of those questions at first is it safe is this experimental? I think the one benefit now is that we've had millions of people in the United States and even more around the world who have been vaccinated and the safety of the vaccine is holding up," Dr. Lewis McCurdy with Atrium Health said.

All three approved vaccines are now being given in the Charlotte area and more will be coming. There's concern some people may experience vaccine fatigue, especially those who are young and healthy.

"One, it protects you. Two is we all have friends family who may not be as lucky as the young and healthy people. The more people we can get vaccinated we're hoping to slow this whole pandemic down," McCurdy said.

As of Tuesday, there were no North Carolina counties experiencing "critical spread," which would place them in the red in the statewide tracker. More than 20 counties remain in the orange with a "substantial spread."

On Tuesday, DHHS announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded the state with over $94 million for COVID-19 vaccination programs to help vaccinate population groups that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In total, the CDC awarded $3 billion to 64 local jurisdictions nationwide to create greater vaccine accessibility.

“I’m grateful for North Carolinians who are taking this seriously and getting the shot when it’s their time and I’m encouraged that North Carolina will be able to open eligibility to all adults well ahead of the President’s May 1 goal,” Cooper said last month.

An official with the White House said President Joe Biden will move the deadline for all Americans to be eligible for the vaccine to April 19, nearly two weeks ahead of the original May 1 deadline. 

RELATED: Sore arm after the COVID-19 shot? It's not just the needle. Here's what that means for heading off the pain.

Demand for the shot has outpaced supply to this point but health care providers in the Charlotte area are expecting more vaccines soon.

"We have been working around the clock to prepare for the day we can offer vaccination appointments to everyone who wants one," Novant Health Dr. David Priest said.

RELATED: Reports: Walgreens moving Pfizer vaccine doses to 21 days apart as recommended

The Mecklenburg County Health Department will begin accepting appointments for Group 5 vaccinations at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Those appointments will be available starting this Wednesday. Patients can schedule their vaccines online or through the county's hotline at 980-314-9400. 

Local pharmacies and grocery stores, including Publix, Walgreens, Harris Teeter and CVS, as well as health care providers Atrium Health and Novant Health will be also taking appointments.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.