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N.C. cases climb but some trends leave health officials hopeful

The latest wastewater data from Raleigh shows downward trend in amount of virus detected

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Ali Ingersoll
, WRAL Investigative Data Journalist

A record shattering 34,000 new COVID cases were added in the state on Thursday, but there’s a bit of good news tied to this – states in the northeast corridor are starting to see new cases plateau.

As public health officials are grappling with how to combat the latest variant of the virus, they’re looking to how it’s trending in other locations.

A Boston wastewater analysis – which has been a leading indicator in the past for case trends – shows the amount of virus detected has plunged by 40 percent since peaking on the first of the year. In Raleigh, after a sharp increase over the holidays, the latest wastewater data shows the Triangle, too, is seeing the amount of virus detected trending downward.

Currently, North Carolina case numbers are rising. The average number of new cases added each day has increased by 749 percent in the past month. The omicron variant is spreading wildly among the North Carolina population, with an average of more than 26,000 cases being reported each day.

To think of it another way: That's like the whole city of Clayton testing positive in a single day.

“We are seeing that upward trend in North Carolina," said Dr. Susan Kansagra, the NCDHHS Senior Deputy Director for the Division of Public Health. "In other places in the U.S. - for example New York City – we are starting to see that they might be tapering off as far as the number of cases or at least plateauing.”

Why New York? The states up the Interstate 95 corridor detected omicron earlier than North Carolina did - about 10 days earlier, so how they’re trending sheds light on what might take place here. The early reports show cases are leveling off.

“We think we are heading there but we are still far behind," Kansagra said. "But that at least gives hope for where we might be in a few weeks.”


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