NC reports over 3,200 new COVID cases, the highest number since February

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North Carolina reported the highest number of new daily COVID-19 cases since late February, according to the North Carolina DHHS COVID-19 dashboard Thursday.

The state reported 3,268 new cases, up 635 from Wednesday’s 2,633 new cases. The News & Observer reported Wednesday that average new daily cases have gone up sixfold in the last month due to the spread of the delta variant — a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 — largely among people who have not been vaccinated.

North Carolina also reported 12 new deaths Thursday; the total is now 13,618. The state on Wednesday reported 16 new deaths, the highest daily increase since early May.

The positivity rate on Tuesday, the last data available, was 9.3%. The rate had climbed to over 10% on July 25. It has increased daily since July 21 when 6.4% of total tests were positive. The positivity rate had fallen to under 2% in June but was last under 5% on July 15.

Health officials have said a rate of less than 5% is an indication that the spread of the coronavirus is slowing. A rate above 5% indicates that the virus is continuing to spread.

There are 1,141 people currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 in North Carolina, per the dashboard. Of these, 274 people — or 24% — are adult ICU COVID-19 patients.

As of Wednesday, North Carolina has averaged over 1,900 new cases per day over the last week. The state was averaging just over 300 new cases per day at the end of June and over 400 by the first week of July.

Additionally, over the last 14 days, Durham County has had 106 cases per 100,000 people; Orange has had 80 and Wake has had 189. In total, Durham has had 26,332 cases, Orange has had 8,776 and Wake 92,265.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance Tuesday afternoon that everyone in schools should wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. The recommendations include indoor masking for students, teachers, staff and visitors but that students should still return to full-time in-person learning this fall.

Gov. Roy Cooper will have a press conference at 3 p.m. Thursday.

Fifty-seven percent of North Carolinians 18 years or older have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared to 61% who have received at least one dose. Both are lower than the national average; 60.2% of Americans 18 or older are fully vaccinated, and 69.3% have received at least one dose.

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