North Carolina has surpassed the 120,000 mark for COVID-19 cases and the 1,900 threshold for deaths, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday.

DHHS said there were 2,344 new cases Wednesday for an overall total of 120,194.

It was the third-highest daily case total since the brunt of the pandemic began to be felt in mid-March. The highest-ever daily number of new cases was 2,481 reported July 18.

Forsyth public health officials reported there were 88 new cases Wednesday for an overall total of 4,791.

Statewide, the number of COVID-19 related deaths increased by 38 to 1,903.

Meanwhile, the death count in Forsyth County has been revised down by one to 48 because one of the victims was determined to have been a resident of Virginia.

DHHS reported there are 1,239 North Carolinians currently hospitalized with COVID-19 related illnesses. That’s down 33 from the record high of 1,272 reported Wednesday.

There have been more than 1,000 hospitalizations in the state every day since July 7.

DHHS said, as of 4 p.m. Monday, that about 81% of North Carolinians who have contracted COVID-19 are considered recovered.

Forsyth County health officials said that, as of 12:45 p.m. Thursday, 3,243 residents are counted as recovered for an active COVID-19 case count of 1,500.

Guilford County has reported 5,042 cases since mid-March, including 110 new cases Wednesday. The number of deaths increased by two to 142.

The 16-county Triad region — officially called the Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition — has more intensive-care beds in use, at 420, than any other region in the state, as well as the second most inpatient beds in use, at 3,287. Both counts include patients with and without COVID-19.

The Triad region has the state’s second highest total of adult COVID-19 patients in ICU, at 80, down two from Wednesday. It also has the second highest total of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, at 279, unchanged from Wednesday.

Both Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s health secretary, said Tuesday that they were encouraged by what they termed “early signs of stabilization” even with the record hospitalization total.

“People going into the hospital today were likely infected days or weeks ago,” Cohen said. “This trend will take longer to stabilize than other metrics.

“Fortunately, we still have hospital capacity in North Carolina.”

Cooper and Cohen said they believe the statewide mask mandate, which went into effect June 26, has played a role in more COVID-19 numbers stabilizing.

“We see a direct correlation to the start of the statewide mask requirement,” Cohen said.

On Thursday, Cohen said North Carolina is preparing for a lot of new movement, whether it's college and K-12 students potentially returning to in-class lessons, the potential plans for the Republican National Convention back in Charlotte and the possible end of the Phase Two pause on Aug. 7.

"We have been seeing a 10-12 day stabilization in our cases, but we doesn't want to stabilize at this high rate of new cases, but go down," Cohen said.

"We want to make forward progress on reopening gyms and other activities, and we know how to."

Statewide, the percentage of tests coming back positive has hovered between 8% and 10% since at least mid-May. It was at 8% as of noon Thursday after being at 7% the previous two days. There have been 1.72 million tests conducted in North Carolina.

The latest testing numbers for Forsyth, as of Saturday, had 4,532 positive results out of 37,126 tests countywide for a 12.2% positive rate.

Cohen has said a 5% positive rate would be preferable.

rcraver@wsjournal.com

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@rcraverWSJ

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