North Carolina and Forsyth County are approaching another somber COVID-19 threshold, this time involving the death toll since the pandemic began in mid-March.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported Saturday another 53 coronavirus-related deaths for an overall total of 7,986.
Meanwhile, there were two additional deaths in Forsyth for an overall total of 248.
Forsyth had a daily pandemic high of nine in DHHS' Friday report.
In terms of cases, there were 7,986 statewide for an overall total of 667,826. The daily high is 11,581 reported on Jan. 8.
For Forsyth, there were 318 new cases for an overall total of 24,699. The daily high is 430 cases reported Jan. 9.
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.
Forsyth public health and DHHS officials could not be reached for details on the nine deaths reported Friday.
However, it is likely the nine deaths were residents of local long-term care facilities in the county.
DHHS' semiweekly update, released Friday, lists nine new deaths among six long-term care facilities in Forsyth since the Tuesday report.
There were three additional deaths listed for Summerstone Health and Rehab Center for a total of six. There were two additional deaths at Oak Forest Health and Rehabilitation for a total of five.
There was one each at Clemmons Village I (for a total of five), Clemmons Village II (for a total of two), Forest Heights Senior Living Community (for a total of four), and Salemtowne Babcock Health Center, the first at that facility.
The statewide COVID-19 hospitalization count was at 3,895 as of 11 a.m. Saturday, down 21 from Friday's report and down 95 from Thursday's record high of 3,990.
The 17-county Triad region had 1,056 hospitalized COVID-19 patients as of Saturday's report, up four from Friday. The daily high is 1,078 reported Jan. 8.
The Triad has had the daily hospitalization high for most of the past 13 weeks.
The Triad also has the most intensive care units currently in use at 518, or 24.4% of ICUs statewide, as well as inpatient hospital beds in use at 3,965.
DHHS reported Saturday that Forsyth had a positive test rate of 14.5% out of about 1,950 tests conducted Thursday. The county had a record 14.8% positivity rate out of about 1,150 tests conducted Jan. 10.
Statewide, there was an 11.8% positive rate out of 70,973 tests conducted Thursday. The record positive rate is 17.5% of the 25,882 tests conducted Jan. 4.
David Priest, a Novant Health Inc. infectious disease expert, said Friday it remains too early to say that the holiday surge in COVID-19 numbers has reached its peak locally or statewide.
It typically takes seven to 10 days for COVID-19 symptoms to appear.
Priest has said one key area of concern in early January was a 25% positive test rate in the system’s Triad and Charlotte markets over a seven-day rolling period.
On Friday, Priest said the positive test rate over the seven-day period has dropped to 19%.
“It remains to be seen how much improvement we're actually seeing," Priest said.