© 2022 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Main Banner Background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Sign up now for BPR's Weekly Update enews

NC breaks COVID-19 record with over 18,000 new cases in one day

North Carolina health officials reported 18,571 positive tests for COVID on Thursday, the highest new case count on record.

 (12/31)  The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 18,571 positive tests for COVID-19   onThursday(12/30),  the highest one-day number of COVID-19 cases on record and 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January of this year.  Cases and hospitalizations are also on the rise in Western North Carolina and COVID-19 tests are in high demand. 

According to a press release from NCDHHS:  The number of people visiting the emergency room for COVID-like illness also set a record at 4,171. The number of individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled since the beginning of December.

Data suggests that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 may cause less severe illness for people who are vaccinated. However, those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying medical conditions are at highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization. 89% of people in intensive care are unvaccinated. Hospitalizations are likely to increase as the trend typically lags four to five days after an increase in cases.

“We are concerned that even a very small proportion of these cases ending up in the hospital could

Credit BPR
At-home COVID tests are selling out at local pharmacies in Western North Carolina.

overwhelm our hospital system and increase the loss of lives of those most vulnerable,” said incoming NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Everyone can help save lives and protect hospital capacity by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already and getting boosted if you are eligible.”  

As cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly,  Kinsley says it is important to take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, noting this is especially important as treatment supply is extremely limited and being reserved for the most at-risk patients.  

State health officials offer the following guidelines for new year celebrations
Gathering Carefully – Avoid large gatherings particularly if you are unvaccinated.  Keep gatherings small and make sure guests are vaccinated and boosted when eligible.  Host gatherings outside. If you gather indoors, only do so with others who are vaccinated and leave room for social distancing, open windows for ventilation, and consider wearing masks. View more tips.

Vaccinating/Boosting – Vaccinations provide the best protection from severe illness, hospitalization and death from all COVID-19 variants.  Get your booster shot if you are eligible – a booster shot provides more protection against infection from the Omicron variant.

Testing – Record testing levels mean that people need to plan ahead. Do not wait to book your appointment, and try an alternate testing location if your favorite one is full. Visit ncdhhs.gov/gettested for a list of testing sites, community events in your area, and other options to get tested. NCDHHS has worked with local governments to increase community testing.  To protect hospital capacity, do not go to the emergency room just to get tested. 

Masking – Wear a well-fitting mask, a surgical or procedure mask, a KN95 or an N95 mask. The CDC recommends all unvaccinated people 2 years old or older wear a mask indoors in public places. (CDC guidance)

North Carolina has ample of supply of vaccines and boosters available. People who have received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines should get a booster shot 6 months after their second shot. Those who got a Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine initially should receive a booster two months after their shot. The CDC recommends getting boosted as soon as you are eligible. Find out how to book an appointment in advance for your vaccine or booster shot, at MySpot.nc.gov.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC has issued new guidance for isolating from others and masking. 

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.