New COVID-19 cases remained at elevated levels in North Carolina over the weekend, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Monday.
The state reached a near two-month high in new cases on Friday, with 1,163 reported — the most since May 20. The daily count of new cases fell slightly to 1,053 on Saturday and dropped to 734 on Sunday.
However, new cases have been at 995 or higher five of the past six days.
Meanwhile, Forsyth County continued to report a low number of new cases, with 73 between noon Friday and noon Monday. There were no additional COVID-19 deaths over the 72-hour period.
Since Forsyth the onset of the pandemic in mid-March 2020, 37,261 Forsyth residents have tested positive for the virus and 427 have died from COVID-19 related illnesses. Forsyth has had 217 new cases so far in July.
DHHS lists COVID-19 cases and deaths on the day they are confirmed by medical providers and public health officials, so people may have been infected or may have died days or weeks before their cases were counted.
Since mid-March 2020, North Carolina has had 1.02 million COVID-19 cases and 13,535 COVID-19 related deaths, with the number of deaths up 12 since Friday’s report.
North Carolina public health officials are concerned that the recent uptick in cases may be because of the delta variant, which has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The delta variant spreads faster than other strains of COVID-19 and could pose an increased risk of hospitalization.
The federal Centers for Disease Control has said the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases — 99% — have occurred in people who are not fully vaccinated.
On Friday, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said during a White House briefing that the U.S. is becoming “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” She said nearly all hospital admissions and deaths involved unvaccinated individuals.
Most of the new Forsyth cases are the delta variant, Joshua Swift, the county’s health director, said last week.
Local infectious diseases experts predict the variant will become the area’s predominant COVID-19 strain by the end of July.
About 94% of Forsyth residents infected with COVID are considered recovered.
Two more key COVID-19 indicators — positive test rate and hospitalizations — also are at elevated levels.
Statewide, COVID-19 related hospitalizations were at 612 in Friday’s report, up 76 from Friday. It’s the highest statewide COVID-19 hospitalization total since June 4.
The 17-county Triad region reported 123 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, up 40 from Friday.
As of noon Monday, 24% of those currently hospitalized with coronavirus statewide were in the 50-59 age group.
Twenty percent were 60 to 69 years old.
Thirteen percent of those patients were 70 to 79.
Another 13% were 20 to 29 years old.
People 40 to 49 made up 11%.
Nine percent were 80 or older.
Patients 30 to 39 years old, as well as patients 17 or younger, each made up 7% of hospitalized patients.
North Carolina reported a 5.8% positive test rate statewide, based on 18,713 tests conducted Saturday.
The statewide rate has been as low as 1.8% on June 23.
For Forsyth, the positive test rate was 2.6% based on 550 tests conducted Saturday.
The percentage of adult North Carolinians considered fully vaccinated is at 56%, while 59% have had at least one shot.
As of noon Monday, 4.79 million adult North Carolinians were considered fully vaccinated.
About 4.44 million North Carolinians have gotten two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, while 352,091 have gotten the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
When including 12- to 17-year-olds, 53% of North Carolinians are fully vaccinated statewide. About 83% of North Carolinians 65 and older are fully vaccinated.
Just 30% of North Carolina’s 12- to 17-year-olds have been vaccinated to date.
DHHS says 176,205 Forsyth residents are fully vaccinated, about 46% of the county population, while 186,776 have had at least one dose, or 49%.