North Carolina reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day Friday.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported there were 2,684 cases statewide. That's on top of 2,532 new cases on Wednesday.
The total statewide case count since mid-March stands at 241,623. As of Monday, nearly 89% of those infected are considered recovered.
Meanwhile, the state crossed the 3,900 mark in virus-related deaths with 36 additional deaths reported for a total of 3,910.
For Forsyth County, there were 81 new cases — the highest daily total since 85 were reported for Oct. 1. DHHS also reported 74 cases on Thursday, 71 on Wednesday and 60 on Tuesday.
The overall Forsyth case count is at 7,968. There were no additional deaths after four were reported Thursday. The county has recorded 110 total COVID-19-related deaths.
Since mid-March, Gov. Roy Cooper's administration has been monitoring five public health data points: number of hospitalizations; number of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators available; number of positive cases; percentage of positive cases; and number of individuals coming to hospital emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state's health secretary, said Tuesday that she and Cooper do not have "a magic number or any one metric that we look at when we make these (restrictions) decisions. These metrics are all interrelated."
Perhaps the most concerning of the statewide trends is the fluctuating positive test rate, which has been as low as 4.6% on Sept. 24 and as high as 7.9% on Oct. 4. There was a 6.3% positive rate out of Wednesday's 33,504 tests in North Carolina.
Cohen has said she prefers a 5% positive test rate when evaluating whether to ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Statewide COVID-19-related hospitalizations were at 1,148 on Friday, up eight from Thursday. Hospitalizations reached a nine-week high of 1,152 on Tuesday.
Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease expert at Wake Forest Baptist Health, said Thursday that community spread continues to be the main driver of the uptick in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Ohl said he remains as concerned about smaller scale social gatherings as large political, sports, entertainment gatherings and protests.
"Household-based social gatherings, whether on vacation, family get-togethers," Ohl said.
"They seem innocuous, but the concern is that as two household bubbles come together, COVID could be hiding in one of those bubbles, and infections are occurring that way."
Since Phase 2.5 of reopening began Sept. 4 in North Carolina, the total case count has jumped 37.4% from 175,815 to 241,623 as of noon Friday. The death toll has increased 35.3% from 2,889 to 3,910.
Gov. Roy Cooper added his voice Thursday to those cautioning that many key COVID-19 metrics in the state are “going in the wrong direction.”
Like Cohen, Cooper said he does not want to go backward and tighten socioeconomic restrictions.
But he cautioned that the combination of the pandemic, the arrival of the 2020-21 flu season, and lax adhering to social distancing guidelines could push the numbers high enough to force his hand.
Total Forsyth residents considered recovered as of 1 p.m. Friday: 7,048 out of 7,968, or about 88.4%.
Active Forsyth County cases reported as of 1 p.m. Friday: 810.
Percentage of Forsyth tests returning positive results, as of Wednesday (latest day available): 4.6% out of about 1,450 tests. The percent dropped to as low as 2.5% in the past three weeks.
Total N.C. residents considered recovered as of 4 p.m. Monday (latest available): 206,471, or 88.7%.
Total COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the Triad region as of Friday: 236, third highest of any region in the state. The Triad region, for the purposes of state COVID-19 reporting, includes Forsyth, Guilford, Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Caldwell, Davie, Davidson, Iredell, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
DHHS said 97% of hospitals submitted their COVID-19 data Friday by the daily 7:30 a.m. deadline. The Triad region had a 100% reporting rate.
DHHS reported there were 37,159 tests Thursday, raising the overall total to 3.53 million.
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