North Carolina reported slightly fewer new cases of COVID-19 on Friday than it did Thursday, but the count remained above 3,000 for a second straight day, according to the North Carolina DHHS COVID-19 dashboard.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 3,199 new cases Friday, down 69 from the 3,268 new cases reported Thursday. Thursday’s case increase was the largest the state has reported since February.
There were 17 new deaths reported Friday, for a total of 13,635 deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state. The state first reached over 13,000 deaths in late May. The state reported 16 new deaths Wednesday, the highest since June 24 when it reported 15.
Deaths do not necessarily occur on the day they are reported. DHHS continues to update the totals for individual dates as information becomes available. So while it updates the total number of deaths each day, it does not report when those newly reported deaths occurred.
There are 1,168 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in North Carolina, up 27 from Thursday’s reported 1,141. Of these, 293 people — about 24% — are adults in intensive care units. Hospitalizations have increased daily since July 9, when 409 people were in the hospital.
The positivity rate for coronavirus tests on Wednesday, the last day of data available, was 9.5%, up from 9.1% reported Tuesday. From the start of the pandemic, the target has been 5%. A positivity rate below 5%, health officials say, is one indication that the spread of the virus is slowing. North Carolina has not been below 5% since July 15.
Per 100,000 people, Durham County has reported 115 cases, Orange County 86 and Wake County 216 over the last 14 days. Durham has had 26,382 cases total, Orange 8,796 and Wake 92,635. The dashboard reports that Durham’s positivity rate was 3.7% on Tuesday, the last day available; Orange’s was 2.4% and Wake’s 5.0%.
From July 4 to 17, the last data available, the state’s county alert system labeled Wake and Orange counties as yellow (significant spread) and Durham as a light yellow (moderate spread) county. Richmond County was the one red county in the state; only 34.3% of the county is fully vaccinated.
Fifty-five percent of North Carolinians 12 years or older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 58% of this age group has received at least one dose. These numbers are lower than the national averages; 57.7% of Americans 12 years or older are fully vaccinated, and 66.9% have received at least one dose.
Vaccination has started to increase slightly over the last two weeks. About 96,725 vaccines were administered the week of July 19, up about 16,000 from the 80,065 administered the week of July 12. So far, 54,751 vaccines have been administered the week of July 26.
NCDHHS recently told The News & Observer that more than 94% of cases and deaths reported since May 6 were among people who were not fully vaccinated. People who are vaccinated and contract COVID-19 typically avoid serious illness or hospitalization, the spokesperson wrote.
Additionally, during May and June, more than 99% of cases and more than 98% of hospitalizations and deaths were in people who were not fully vaccinated.
Gov. Roy Cooper held a press conference Thursday where he attributed the recent surge in cases to unvaccinated people, who he said are “driving this resurgence and getting themselves and other people sick.”
He did not reinstate a mask mandate, but is requiring some North Carolina employees in state agencies to show proof of vaccination. Those who don’t will be required to wear masks and be tested regularly for COVID-19.
The surge is also due to the delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, health officials say. This variant is more transmissible and possibly more deadly.
In terms of total cases, case rates, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccination rates, North Carolina was in the middle of the pack when compared to other states in the Southeast.