Local News

Could NC be moving past post-holidays spike in coronavirus cases?

Posted January 18, 2021 8:32 p.m. EST

Health experts worried about an explosion in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations following Christmas and New Year's Day, as people ignored recommendations against traveling and gathering for the holidays.

Those dire predictions have come to pass, with North Carolina's pandemic metrics steadily climbing in recent weeks.

From Nov. 12, which was two weeks before Thanksgiving, to Jan. 12, the average number of new infections reported in the state ballooned from 2,542 a day to 8,654 – a 340 percent increase. Daily hospitalization numbers likewise spiked from from 1,239 COVID-19 patients on Nov. 12 to 3,906 a week ago.

Even grimmer, the number of people dying from COVID-19 in North Carolina quadrupled in two months, from 23 people a day in mid-November to 92 now.

"I think all of us are being tested and pressured with regards to the number of patients with COVID who are in our inpatient facilities," said Dr. Joseph Rogers, chief medical officer for Duke University Health System. "I don't know that we're going to get back down to that point of very low levels of disease transmission in the community for a while until more people have been vaccinated."

Rogers expressed hope that the trends will start leveling off soon.

On Sunday, the state showed slight decreases in new infections and virus-related hospitalizations and deaths.

Rogers said there are numerous variables to the data, but right now, it does look like the state could be moving past the post-holiday spike.

"From a public health perspective, [it's] very encouraging to see these numbers starting to go back down," he said. "I think that many of us in health systems and in hospitals are still concerned about this ongoing surge of patients who are getting sick enough to require inpatient care."

He added that widespread immunity to the virus is still months off, so it's too soon to relax.

"It's too early to let our guards down in this pandemic," he said. "In fact, I think now is really the time to double down."

Our commenting policy has changed. If you would like to comment, please share on social media using the icons below and comment there.