NC sees record number of new coronavirus cases, 2nd-highest daily hospitalizations
Posted October 15, 2020 12:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2020 12:14 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina reported 2,684 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday. With more than 2,500 new cases reported Thursday, the state is reaching a peak unseen since the pandemic began.
While on Saturday, the number of cases dipped to 2,102 new coronavirus cases, a drop from the past couple of days, but still above the 7-day rolling average.
To date, 243,725 people have tested positive for the virus in North Carolina out of a population of about 10 million. While most people recover – at least 206,471 are assumed recovered to date, or 86% – almost 4,000 North Carolinians have died of COVID-19 in the past seven months.
North Carolina's daily case count has been steadily trending upward since a low in mid-September. Since that time, the rolling, seven-day average of new cases has climbed from about 1,200 per day to more than 2,000 per day.
The daily number of those being tested and the percentage who test positive have also increased over the past two weeks.
For 11 days straight, hospital have reported more than 1,000 people are being treated in North Carolina hospitals for coronavirus, matching a streak set in mid-August.
"We are moving in the wrong direction," Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said during a Thursday afternoon briefing.
Unlike a brief increase in August linked to college students returning to campuses statewide, Cohen said the current trend isn't tied to a specific region or demographic group, making it more difficult to address.
"One thing is clear: North Carolinians must be even more vigilant in our effort to prevent the spread of this virus," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "Complacency will cost lives and hurt our economy."
Neither official is ready to pin the increase on the state's Oct. 2 move to Phase 3 in the plan to reopen businesses and resume social activities during the pandemic. That allowed bars to start serving people outside and movie theaters and event venues to reopen with limited capacity.
The executive order detailing Phase 3 restrictions expires at the end of next week. Cooper said a decision on whether to extend the order or change any restrictions would be made sometime next week, giving officials more time to monitor the trends.
"No one wants to move backward," Cohen said of reimposing restrictions. But she added that officials would look first at the highest-risk activities: things done indoors, where people are crowded together and not wearing masks.
Some of the state's least-populous counties have the highest rate of death from the virus. Hertford County in the northeast part of the state and Montgomery County in the south-central both are on pace for more than 140 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Robeson County, with 4,191 cases per 100,000 people, has the highest rate of infection in the state (5,475 total cases), although only 85 people have died.
Cooper and Cohen said people need to stick closely to the now-familiar guidance to wear masks in public, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently to limit the spread of the virus.
"We have a lot of measures in place that, if people will abide by them and everybody pulls together, then we can slow the spread of this virus," Cooper said.
"We brought our numbers down before, and we can do it again," he added.