The Charlotte Observer

New COVID cases plateau as delta surge in NC starts to slow

- BY BEN SESSOMS bsessoms@newsobserv­

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in North Carolina has declined a second week in a row.

With 15,824 cases over the weekend, North Carolina has confirmed just under 43,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days.

The two weeks before, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 44,933 and 50,154 new cases each.

The downward trend comes after weeks of rapidly increasing cases due to the delta variant, a mutation of the coronaviru­s that’s more than twice as contagious as the original strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 98% of sequenced virus in North Carolina is delta, the latest CDC data show.

The number of people hospitaliz­ed with the virus statewide has surged from 396 in early July to 3,323 as of Monday, though that number has decreased recently. On Sept. 9, 3,815 people were hospitaliz­ed.

Of those currently hospitaliz­ed, about 27%, or 887, are

being treated in intensive care units, down from the 932 reported a week ago. ICU patients hit a pandemic peak of 955 in late August.

Deaths from COVID-19 have spiked since July as well.

So far in September, 849 people have died, and in August, 1,153 died, according to the latest reports from DHHS.

In all of June and July combined, 378 people died.

A DHHS analysis from late August found unvaccinat­ed people are more than four times likely to catch COVID-19 and 15 times more likely to die due to the disease, The News & Observer previously reported.

As of Monday, 52% of all North Carolinian­s and 61% of those eligible, ages 12 and up, are fully vaccinated.

Nationally, those rates are 55% and 64% respective­ly.

Pfizer, one of the manufactur­ers of the COVID-19 vaccine, announced Monday that its studies show the vaccine is effective in children age 5 to 11.

The company plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administra­tion for emergency use authorizat­ion for that age group by the end of the month.

Among the coronaviru­s tests reported Saturday, the latest available data, 10.3% were positive. In the week prior to Saturday, 10.2% of tests were positive per day.

State health officials have said they want that rate at 5% or lower. It’s fallen from 12% at the beginning of September.

As of Monday, 670,565 Americans, including 15,776 North Carolinian­s, have died from COVID-19.

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

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