NC sees post-Thanksgiving COVID spike as state braces for omicron variant

Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com
·2 min read

North Carolina has reported over 20,000 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, marking a new spike after Thanksgiving as the state anticipates its first case of the highly-mutated omicron variant soon.

From just Wednesday to Saturday, over 3,000 new cases were reported each day, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Before Wednesday, DHHS hadn’t reported a day with over 3,000 new cases since mid-October, when the state was coming down from its surge of the highly contagious delta variant.

Now the state faces a new variant, omicron.

Health officials are concerned that omicron, with its many mutations at the spike protein that causes COVID-19, could possibly evade immunization, whether from prior infection or from vaccination.

But much is unknown about the new variant. Health experts will know more in the coming weeks, The News & Observer previously reported.

No cases of omicron had been reported in North Carolina as of Monday. But it has been reported in 18 other states, The New York Times reported.

That includes Georgia, which North Carolina borders in the far western part of the state.

At a press conference last week, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said many health experts believe omicron is already in North Carolina, just not detected yet.

Hospitalizations increase

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have increased by nearly 150 over the past week to 1,307, the highest amount reported in North Carolina since late October.

The number of patients requiring intensive care, at 345, has increased every day since Wednesday, when the state broke 300 for first time in a month.

But metrics are much lower than they were during the delta surge a few months ago when hospitalizations and ICU patients neared 4,000 and 1,000 respectively.

NC vaccination rates

As of Monday, 69% of adults were fully vaccinated in North Carolina. Among those eligible, age 5 and up, the rate is 58%.

The vaccine remains the best prevention method against COVID-19.

According to a DHHS report from last week, people who are unvaccinated are over five times more likely to contract COVID-19 and over 25 times as likely to die from the disease, compared to vaccinated individuals.

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