New daily COVID-19 cases in NC top 3,000 for first time since February

CHARLOTTE — North Carolina, like many other states across the country, continues to see an uptick in COVID-19 cases, and the metrics are alarming.

On Thursday, the state was reporting 3,268 new COVID-19 cases -- well above the daily average from recent weeks and the first time daily cases have topped 3,000 since late February.

The percent positive in the state is currently at 9.3%. It had been above 10% for two straight days.

As of Thursday, 1,141 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state -- a number that has continued to grow each day this week.

The percent of the adult population that has at least one dose of the vaccine in North Carolina stands at 61%.

In a news conference Thursday afternoon, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper recommended, but not mandated, masks for people who are vaccinated in areas of high and substantial community spread.

More people -- vaccinated and unvaccinated -- showing up to get tested

COVID-19 testing centers are starting to look like they did a few months ago, with people lining up to get tested for the virus.

Reporter Tina Terry spoke with many of them on Thursday and found out that some getting tested are already vaccinated.

Health officials at StarMed said last Tuesday was when they started to notice more people coming in to get tested for COVID.

To help put into perspective the numbers they’re seeing, StarMed had about four testing sites statewide last week. By Friday, it will have about 15 locations open all across North Carolina.

StarMed officials said what’s most alarming to them is that they’ve noticed a 13% positivity rate – numbers they haven’t seen since February.

StarMed said the delta variant is responsible for this uptick in cases, and it is impacting both the unvaccinated and vaccinated.

CDC COVID-19 Transmission Levels by U.S. County

‘It’s time to step up’: Cooper calls on unvaccinated to put an end to pandemic

“It’s time to step up. It’s time to get that shot now. Do not wait. Do it for yourself. Do it for your family. Do it for your friends. The shot is safe. The shot is effective,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at a vaccine site in Nashville, North Carolina on Thursday.

Cooper visited the McDonald’s in Nashville where the National Guard has set up a COVID-19 vaccination site. The site allows people to get vaccinated without leaving their cars. People who got the shot also received a coupon for a free McDonald’s sandwich.

Cooper spoke at the event, but declined to talk about pending changes to the state’s vaccination requirements or mask guidelines. Cooper will address those topics during his 3 p.m. press conference.

Instead, Cooper praised North Carolinians who already received the vaccine and encouraged them to keep advocating for their friends and family to get vaccinated.

”People who are vaccinated I know are frustrated and mad right now, because they have stepped up and done their part. But I want vaccinated people to encourage the unvaccinated now more than ever. Because vaccinated people can be some of our best messengers,” he said.

Cooper went on to say the only way to finally get back to what life was like before the virus is to get vaccinated.

”It’s time for us to step up and put this pandemic in the rear-view mirror, and we can’t do it until we get more people vaccinated.”

(WATCH BELOW: Free at-home COVID-19 testing kits can now be delivered to all NC homes)