The Perfect Enemy | NC coronavirus hospitalizations reach highest levels seen since February
August 17, 2022

NC coronavirus hospitalizations reach highest levels seen since February

NC coronavirus hospitalizations reach highest levels seen since February  WRAL NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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— The number of North Carolinians testing positive for COVID-19 and going to the hospital has increased by 17% this week compared to last week, according to data released by the state on Wednesday.

North Carolina is seeing levels of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations not seen since the end of omicron’s peak in February, the data shows.

A total of 1,290 people were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in the week ending July 24, which is the most North Carolina has seen since the week ending on February 19.

The majority of those admitted were adults over the age of 50, data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows.

Reported COVID-19 hospitalizations in NC

This jump in hospitalizations comes as no surprise to North Carolina’s healthcare providers, who predicted that the state would see an increase in coronavirus hospitalizations with the latest hyper-contagious variant, BA.5.

Jessica Dixon, infection prevention specialist at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, said last week that hospitalizations and ICU admissions tend to lag behind case count increases. She predicts North Carolina could see an even greater increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

“So far we haven’t seen a big uptick in the number of COVID-19 patients that are in our critical care units, but I expect that could change over the next couple of weeks,” Dixon said last week.

Signs of progress hidden in the data

The pandemic does not seem to be stressing the North Carolina healthcare system now as much as it did in February.

According to a chart from DHHS, North Carolina is seeing about the same number of respiratory, coronavirus-like illnesses now that it was in 2019.

Eleven percent of all those hospitalized with coronavirus are in the intensive care unit. During the week ending February 18, that number was at 18%.

Only 5% of all COVID-19 patients are on a ventilator this week compared to 12% in the week ending on February 18.

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Unlike at other points in the pandemic, there are plenty of free intensive care unit beds available for patients who may fall ill from the virus. DHHS officials say the state has more than 1,300 beds available across the state.

DHHS tracks the amount of COVID-19 particles found in the state’s wastewater. In the past week, the state saw a decrease of COVID-19 particles in wastewater by 20%, after seeing a spike the week before.

North Carolina reported that more than 32,000 people tested positive for the virus this week, which is an 11% increase from the week before. However, many healthcare leaders say this metric is unreliable due to the amount of at-home positive tests not required to be reported to DHHS.

Vaccination rate among young children lags

Only a fourth of North Carolina children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated and less than half of those ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated without a booster shot.

Statewide, there are more than 17 children in the hospital with COVID-19. By comparison, pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations exceeded 100 in January.

There were more than eight COVID-19 pediatric patients in the hospital last month among Caswell, Person, Granville, Durham, Vance, Warren and Robeson counties.

Hospitalizations among children have slightly ticked upward from last week to this week.

Many children across the Triangle are headed back to school next month, and many school districts that offer classes year-round have already convened. According to the Wake County schools COVID-19 dashboard, there are only two students in quarantine with COVID-19.