Coronavirus updates for Sept. 29: Here’s what to know in North Carolina this week

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We’re tracking information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back every Thursday for updates.

More than 14,000 new COVID cases

At least 14,938 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, down from 18,930 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 972 new weekly COVID-19 hospital patient admissions, a drop from 1,011 the previous week, according to figures through Sept. 24, the most recent metrics available. The daily average of adult coronavirus patients in intensive care was 109, compared to 112 the week before.

The figures were released Wednesday, Sept. 28, about six 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 78% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 73% have finished an initial round of vaccine doses. Of the state’s total population, about 63% finished their initial round and about 67% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination metrics to the nearest whole number.

More than 3.9 million “original booster/additional doses” have been administered in North Carolina as of Sept. 28, 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 Sept. 17, the latest time period for which data is available.

Infection rate ‘stable’ in Charlotte area, data shows

Coronavirus cases are “leveling off” in Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, The Charlotte Observer reported on Sept. 27.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Mecklenburg saw a decrease in cases compared to the week leading up to Sept. 18 and that the area had a low community level for COVID-19.

The level of virus particles in wastewater — which can be an early indicator of coronavirus spread — also has been dropping, officials said.

“The COVID-19 situation in the community continues to be stable,” said Raynard Washington, public health director for Mecklenburg County. “We are continuing to monitor our data very closely to see what’s happening with COVID in the community.”

COVID hospitalizations could be tied to heart failure risk, NC study finds

Patients in the hospital for COVID-19 could have higher risks of heart failure in the future when compared to patients who had been in the hospital for other reasons, according to a North Carolina study.

Duke researchers studied records of more than a half-million hospital patients to come up with the findings, which were published in the journal Nature Communications. They tracked the outcomes of patients for a year after they came home from a hospital stay due to COVID-19 or another reason.

“They found the COVID group was 45% more likely to be diagnosed with heart failure when compared to patients hospitalized with something other than COVID,” The News & Observer reported on Sept. 23.

Dr. Marat Fudim said the study has limitations since the study wasn’t randomized and researchers can’t say whether COVID-19 led to heart failure. Fudim was one of the authors of the study, which had findings that were in line with other past research.

“I think the next few years, we will uncover the true burden of long COVID,” Fudim said. “This article just tells us the worst of the worst.”

Health provider opens appointments for new booster shots

A Charlotte-area health care provider is now offering appointments for the new COVID-19 booster shots.

The bivalent booster shots — which target the omicron coronavirus variant — are available for Atrium Health patients ages 12 and older who have had at least two months pass since their last vaccine dose.

Also in the Charlotte area, Mecklenburg County Public Health and StarMed have openings for those wanting an extra dose. Pharmacy chains also have been offering the doses, The Charlotte Observer reported.

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