The number of new COVID-19 cases dropped below record daily levels in Forsyth County and North Carolina.
However, statewide deaths reached a somber new high, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Sunday.
Forsyth was reported with 248 new cases, down from a record 430 reported Saturday.
The county is at an overall total of 23,205 cases since mid-March.
Meanwhile, DHHS said there were 8,833 new cases statewide, dropping from the record 11,581 reported Saturday.
It is the first time in four days that the statewide case total was below 10,000. The overall total is at 623,188.
The number of COVID-19 related deaths reported Sunday was 142, eclipsing the previous record of 137 reported Thursday.
The state is in the midst of an expected surge in cases and hospitalizations stemming from recent holiday social gatherings. It typically takes seven to 10 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.
DHHS lists COVID-19 cases and deaths on the day they are confirmed by medical providers and public health officials, so individuals may have been infected or died days before their cases are counted.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, issued Tuesday a COVID-19 pandemic secretarial order that she called "a stark advisory warning." She repeated the warning Friday.
She recommends that North Carolinians stay at home apart from going to work and to essential activities, such as getting groceries, getting health care or taking care of family members.
The order repeated warnings that people 65 and older and anyone at high risk for developing serious illness should avoid leaving home.
Gov. Roy Cooper has extended through at least Jan. 29 a "modified stay at home" order that has acted as a statewide curfew since Dec. 11.
The order requires restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and others to end all on-premises services at 10 p.m. Take-out, delivery, drive-thru and curbside services are permitted during the curfew hours.
The order also stops on-premises alcohol sales at 9 p.m., whether at a bar or restaurant, or by a vendor.
The statewide COVID-19 hospitalization count was at 3,774 as of 11 a.m. Sunday — its lowest level in six days.
A record high of 3,960 was reported Thursday and Friday.
The 17-county Triad region had 1,017 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Sunday's report, down 28 from Saturday's report. The daily high is 1,078 reported Friday.
The region has had more COVID-19 hospitalizations than any other region in the state for the past 12 weeks.
The Charlotte region has the second-most with 966 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
David Priest, an infectious disease expert at Novant Health Inc., said Friday that one key area of concern is a 25% positive test rate in Novant's Triad and Charlotte markets over a seven-day rolling period.
DHHS reported Sunday that Forsyth remained at a record 14.3% positivity rate for Forsyth, this time out of about 1,650 tests conducted Friday.
Statewide, there was a 13.7 positive rate out of 69,612 tests conducted Friday — 64,002 of the molecular version and 5,610 of the antigen version. The record positive rate is 17.5% of the 25,882 tests conducted Monday.
Forsyth is on DHHS' list of 84 counties experiencing critical community spread of COVID-19 and color-coded red, the highest level on the state's county alert system.
The latest update, released Wednesday, also designated Alamance, Alleghany, Ashe, Davidson, Davie, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin as counties with critical spread.
Listed among 12 counties with substantial community spread — color-coded in orange — is Watauga.