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Health Team

NC's COVID hospitalizations hits yet another all-time high. Here's who is the sickest

Posted November 11, 2020 3:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2020 12:43 p.m. EST

— With North Carolina coronavirus hospitalizations at an all-time high, concerns raised at the beginning of the pandemic about capacity could become a reality.

On Thursday, the state had 1,279 people being treated in hospitals for the virus, topping the record of 1,246 set a day earlier.

New infections declined slightly on Thursday, to 2,893, from Wednesday's record of 3,119, but the rolling, seven-day average of new cases rose to a record of 2,542 per day over the last week – numbers that could point to a continued increase in the need for COVID-related hospital care.

More than 75% of all hospital beds across the state were filled Wednesday, a rate not seen since Oct. 15.

WRAL DataTrackers found 78% of those hospitalized for COVID are 50 or older. Slightly more (53%) are female than male. And 61% percent of those being treated in the hospital for COVID are white. The next highest racial category is Black, at 26 percent.

Reported COVID-19 hospitalizations in NC

The count of patients currently hospitalized is reported daily by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and reflects of a daily survey of hospitals. Because the response rate of that survey varies day to day, we're showing a rolling 7-day average of hospitalizations calculated since the state began reporting numbers consistently on March 24.

Source: N.C. DHHS
Graphic: Tyler Dukes, WRAL

Almost 40% of those currently hospitalized for COVID-19 have been admitted in the last 24 hours, and 24% are in intensive care units. Statewide, intensive care units are 81% full, with COVID patients making up only about 16% of that population.

At hospitals across the UNC Health network, spokesman Alan Wolf said, lessons learned in the spring about caring for COVID patients made doctors, nurses and administrators less worried about a new surge.

"While our infectious disease experts are worried about projections showing an increase in the number of people requiring hospitalization in coming weeks, especially with flu season looming, we are confident that our hospitals have enough capacity to care for all patients who need it," Wolf said.

Dr. Joseph Rogers, chief medical officer at Duke University Health System, said leaders there are monitoring local, regional and national trends.

"While there has been an increase in the number of cases reported in North Carolina, the number of COVID-positive patients hospitalized across our system has remained fairly stable over the past several weeks. At this point, it has not been necessary to implement any strategies to increase hospital bed capacity to accommodate a new surge in COVID cases, but we are prepared to make changes if required," he said.

At WakeMed, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Chris DeRienzo said while hospitalizations are up, there is no immediate concern about capacity.

"Today’s COVID-19 hospital census remains well below our peak from several months ago and currently fewer than 30% of our hospitalized COVID-19 patients need ICU care. At this time, we do not anticipate needing to implement any limits or delays to elective surgeries and procedures," he said.

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