New COVID-19 cases decrease as NC continues to come down from peak of delta surge

New COVID-19 cases in North Carolina continue to decrease on average as the state has started to come down from the peak of the delta variant, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services data show.

DHHS reported just under 3,500 new cases on Tuesday. Over the last week, the state has average 5,000 new cases per day.

At the beginning of September, that average was over 6,900.

The state reported that 3,073 people are hospitalized statewide with the virus. Of those, 865 are being treated in intensive care units. On Sept. 1, those numbers were at 3,802 and 937, respectively.

Cases and hospitalizations spiked over August and much of September due to the delta variant, a mutation of the coronavirus that’s more than twice as contagious as the original strain, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent CDC data show that more than 97% of sequenced virus in North Carolina is delta.

And the variant has caused immense damage.

Over 2,500 people in North Carolina have died due to COVID-19 since Aug. 1. September is now the third deadliest month of the pandemic with a death toll of 1,341 so far, The News & Observer reported Monday.

In all of June and July combined, 379 people in North Carolina died due to the virus.

The vaccine remains the best protection against severe COVID-19.

A DHHS analysis from late August found that those unvaccinated are more than four times as likely to contract COVID-19 and 15 times more likely to die due to the disease, The N&O reported.

As of Tuesday, 53% of all North Carolinians and 62% of those eligible, ages 12 and up, are fully vaccinated. Nationally those rates are 55% and 65% respectively.

People with compromised immune systems, age 65 and older and certain front-line essential workers are now eligible for third-dose, booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

As of Tuesday, 686,639 Americans, including 16,285 North Carolinians, have died due to COVID-19.

Among the tests reported Sunday, the latest available data, 10.6% returned positive. Over the last week of available data, 8.9% of tests per day have returned positive.

State health officials want that rate at 5% or lower. At the beginning of the month it was over 12%.

COVID-19 metrics reported by DHHS each day are preliminary and subject to change as more information becomes available.

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Ben Sessoms covers housing and COVID-19 in the Triangle for the News & Observer through Report for America. He was raised in Kinston and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2019.

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