We’re tracking information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back every Thursday for updates.
More than 29,000 new COVID cases
At least 29,670 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, down from 32,920 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 1,354 new weekly COVID-19 hospital patient admissions, up from 1,350 the previous week, according to data through Aug. 6, the most recent metrics available. The daily average of adult coronavirus patients in intensive care was 152, compared to 151 the week before.
The figures were released Wednesday, Aug. 10, more than four months after health officials started adjusting information on their coronavirus dashboard and publishing weekly COVID-19 data. The data had previously been released almost every day.
Roughly 77% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 73% are fully vaccinated. Of the state’s total population, about 63% are fully vaccinated and about 67% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination metrics to the nearest whole number.
More than 3.8 million “additional/booster” doses have been administered in North Carolina as of Aug. 10, the health department said. Health officials have urged those who are eligible to get boosted, as data shows it offers increased protection against the omicron coronavirus variant.
Across the state, virtually all new COVID-19 cases were attributed to the omicron variant’s “lineages” in the two weeks leading up to July 30, the latest time period for which data is available.
Free COVID tests available to some in NC
Some people in North Carolina are eligible to receive more free COVID-19 test kits.
The Rockefeller Foundation and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are teaming up to mail five at-home tests to people who ask for them.
The residents must live in certain ZIP codes. Those include several in Raleigh and Durham, The News & Observer reported Aug. 9.
The program is available throughout 80 of the state’s 100 counties as well as parts of 13 others, officials said.
More information is available on the accesscovidtests.org website.
NC town hall closes over COVID
A North Carolina town hall closed its doors over coronavirus-related staffing concerns, officials said.
The town of Pittsboro’s shutdown also impacted its police department, The News & Observer reported.
The town hall wasn’t expected to reopen until Aug. 15 at the earliest.
“We thank you for your patience as we work through these challenges and look forward to resuming our normal levels of service soon,” spokesperson Colby Sawyer said.
Pittsboro is in Chatham County, which was among dozens of places in the state labeled as having high transmission for COVID-19 as of Aug. 9.
Wastewater could be used to predict COVID risks
With declines in testing and reporting COVID-19, wastewater could help predict virus-related risks.
The idea comes as the coronavirus continues to spread without North Carolina cities pushing for face mask requirements in public.
“As a next and possibly more effective step to help individuals make decisions on personal protection, the government could turn wastewater surveillance into local risk forecasting, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina,” The News & Observer reported on Aug. 8.
Since wastewater can be tested for the presence of coronaviruses, alerts could be created for people living in places where there are outbreaks.
“Not everybody can look at a graph [on the website] and understand what’s going on,” said Rachel Noble, a microbiologist at UNC. “We need a way to interpret it for the public so they can understand the risk to their everyday lives.”
NC doctor weighs in as residents continue to test positive
As the coronavirus continues to spread, one North Carolina expert urges people to continue wearing face masks in places where they might be at risk of being exposed.
Dr. David Alain Wohl said those include indoor spaces “with people outside our bubble.” He said that face coverings are important because vaccines help protect against COVID-19 but haven’t been as effective as they were against earlier types of the omicron coronavirus variant.
“SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is evolving to become more infectious,” Wohl, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor, told The News & Observer.
The BA.5 subvariant is believed to be more easily transmissible when compared to others that came before it. Though people might be frustrated with the coronavirus pandemic, Wohl warns that they can still get seriously sick and pass COVID-19 to others.
His recommendations were shared as 62 of the 100 counties across North Carolina were considered in the high risk category for COVID-19 as of Aug. 4, the N&O reported.