New COVID-19 cases hit record highs in NC with more than 19,000 new cases, officials say

RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported its highest single-day number of COVID-19 cases Friday with 19,174 new cases.

State officials said Wednesday it has seen the highest case count since January.

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On Thursday, health officials saw record-high new positive cases at 18,571, which was 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January of this year. On Friday, the percent positive rate was 22.9%, and 2,387 people are currently in the hospital.

The number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has nearly doubled since the beginning of December, health officials said.

Data suggests that the omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause less severe illness for people who are vaccinated.

However, people who are unvaccinated or have underlying medical conditions are at highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization.

As of Thursday, officials said 89% of people in intensive care are unvaccinated.

“Hospitalizations are likely to increase as the trend typically lags four to five days after an increase in cases,” officials said in a news release.

“We are concerned that even a very small proportion of these cases ending up in the hospital could overwhelm our hospital system and increase the loss of lives of those most vulnerable,” said incoming NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Everyone can help save lives and protect hospital capacity by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already and getting boosted if you are eligible.”

NCDHHS is closely monitoring hospital capacity and is urging North Carolinians to gather safely, get vaccinated and boosted, and wear a mask indoors in public places.

NC COVID-19 case count tops 9,000 for first time since January

On Wednesday, North Carolina Health officials shared the latest COVID-19 data from the state, announcing the highest COVID-19 case count since January.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 9,377 additional cases Wednesday, creating a spike in the data from the 30 days prior.

The state has not reached 9,000 cases since Jan. 2021.

The new case count is up from 3,698 cases reported Tuesday.

The percentage of positive tests dipped slightly on Wednesday -- that number changed to 17.3%, down from the record high Tuesday of 21.9%.

>>For the complete set of data released by the NCDHHS, click here.

Vaccines and therapeutics will still flatten the curve, experts say

Tuesday and Wednesday’s numbers are the first updated COVID-19 numbers in North Carolina since Christmas. While they do show a significant jump in cases, state officials and physicians remain confident that vaccines and therapeutics will flatten the curve of severe disease.

“Looking at that hospitalization metric is going to be really important,” Dr. Susan Kansagra, Acting Senior Deputy Director for Division of Public Health at NCDHHS told WTVD. “But the majority of people that are coming into our hospitals and requiring ICU level care are still those that are unvaccinated.”

“Early on, when we didn’t have vaccines or therapeutics, you took your chance in the COVID lottery and the odds were not fantastic,” said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease expert at UNC Health told WTVD. “So now the chances of losing the COVID lottery are slimmer for those of us who have vaccines available and getting therapeutics like we have in this country. So we’re moving to a point now where most, most, most of us are unlikely to get really, really sick from COVID-19, including from omicron.”

According to new forecasts from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, North Carolina could hit its peak of the Omicron surge in late February 2022. The models, moreover, show a potential explosive rise in cases - by some estimates, more than 90,000 active daily cases - but again, hospitalizations and deaths either meet or only slightly exceed North Carolina’s earlier records in the delta and winter 2021 surges.

“The writing is on the wall,” said Dr. Wohl. “The data is there. You can’t deny it. People don’t die as often if they’re vaccinated and boosted.”

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