New COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in NC are falling. ICU patients remain high.

·3 min read

Throughout September, COVID-19 metrics in North Carolina have started to come down from the delta surge, but the number of patients requiring intensive care remains high, state data show.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 6,300 new COVID cases Wednesday, but the average per day over the last week is just over 5,900, down from the 6,900 on Sept. 1.

On Sept. 9, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide was 3,815, the highest since hospitalizations peaked at 3,990 in mid-January. As of Wednesday, that number has dropped to 3,400.

But about 26% of those people are in ICUs, totaling 909. That’s dropped from a pandemic peak of 955 reported on Aug. 29 and Sept. 14, but the state first passed 900 ICU patients in late August.

Except for two days this week, the amount has stayed that high, even as overall hospitalizations drop.

When hospitalizations peaked in January, about 22% of patients were in ICUs.

Among current COVID hospitalizations, nearly one in five people are on ventilators, The News & Observer reported Tuesday.

Though the state has seen a recent improvement in metrics, hospitalizations and new cases since early July, before the delta variant started to surge, have spiked. On July 1, there were 396 people statewide hospitalized, and the seven-day average of new cases was under 300.

Delta is a mutation of the coronavirus that’s more than twice as contagious as the original strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant accounts for nearly 98% of sequenced virus in North Carolina, the latest CDC data show.

Throughout the delta surge, deaths have spiked in North Carolina.

So far in September, 1,013 people have died due to COVID-19, and in August, 1,157 died, according to the latest DHHS reporting.

In all of June and July combined, 378 people died due to the virus.

The vaccine is best protection against severe COVID-19, state data show.

A DHHS analysis from late August concluded that those unvaccinated are four times more likely to contract COVID-19 and 15 times more likely to die due to the disease, The N&O reported.

As of Wednesday, 52% of all North Carolinians and 61% of those eligible, ages 12 and up, are fully vaccinated. Nationally, those rates are 55% and 64% respectively.

Across the country, 675,071 Americans have died due to COVID-19, as of Wednesday. That number includes 15,941 North Carolinians.

Among the tests reported Monday, the latest data available, 11.4% returned positiver. In the week prior to Monday, 9.9% of tests returned positiver per day.

State health officials have said they want that rate at 5% or lower. The rate has decreased from the 12.1% reported on Sept. 1.

COVID-19 metrics reported by DHHS are preliminary and subject to change as more information becomes available.

NC requests FEMA for ambulances to fight COVID-19

North Carolina has submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that asks for 50 ambulances, along with 100 personnel, to fight COVID-19 in the state, ABC11 first reported Tuesday afternoon.

According to the request obtained by ABC News, the ambulances and personnel would report to Swain County, Henderson County, Wilmington, Charlotte, Durham, Greenville and Mocksville, which is located in both Catawba and Forsyth counties.

ABC11 reported that details of deployment may be altered as the request is being processed.

FEMA currently assists with the vaccine rollout in North Carolina, as part of the state’s ongoing state of emergency, first issued by Gov. Roy Cooper in March 2020, when the pandemic started.

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