State COVID-19 hospitalizations, positivity rate remain elevated

STAY SAFE: North Carolina set a new record for the most COVID-19 cases reported in a single day at 6,438 on Dec. 6. The state’s other COVID-19 metrics are steadily creeping upward. Image courtesy of the CDC

Following a weekend of consecutive record increases in new COVID-19 cases, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 2,240 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Dec. 6 — the fifth consecutive state high for coronavirus-related hospitalizations.

Per the department’s regional hospital data report, the Mountain Area Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, which covers Western North Carolina, saw 113 COVID-19 patients receiving care on Dec. 6. Of those patients, 32 were in an intensive care unit. The region retains substantial capacity, with regional medical centers reporting 64 empty staffed ICU beds and 534 empty staffed inpatient beds.

The Triad Healthcare Preparedness Coalition continues to see the highest number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations of the state’s regions, with 670 people currently hospitalized, 88 of which were admitted in the past 24 hours.

The positivity rate of COVID-19 tests across North Carolina has remained above 10% for the last seven days, a trend that Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s secretary of health and human services, addressed in a Dec. 5 statement. She and other health officials have set a 5% positivity rate as their target.  

“We are seeing our highest rates of tests that come back positive, despite the fact we are doing a lot of testing,” Cohen said. “This indicates we have even more viral spread across our state right now.

In less that a week, Cohen added, North Carolina went from its first daily case record exceeding 5,000 (5,637 on Dec. 3)  to two back-to-back days with over 6,000 new cases (6,018 and 6,438 on Dec. 5 and 6, respectively), an increase that is “very worrisome.”

“I am asking each North Carolinian to take personal responsibility for their actions and slowing the spread of this virus,” Cohen continued. “Always wear a mask when with people you don’t live with, keep your distance from other people and wash your hands often. We are looking at what further actions we can take as a state to protect North Carolinians and save lives.”

Gov. Roy Cooper’s current executive order is set to expire on Friday, Dec. 11. He is expected to announce any new changes in the state’s pandemic response later this week. 

In other news

  • As of Dec. 4, a local multi-agency COVID-19 task force has yet to issue a citation or fine to a Buncombe County business found in violation of COVID-19 face covering policies or indoor capacity limits. According to Buncombe County’s Department of Health and Human Services, the team received 145 reports of noncompliance between Nov. 25-Dec. 4, the majority regarding mask complaints. 
  • The city of Asheville reminds business owners operating outdoors to operate safety. Among other guidelines, propane heaters cannot be used beheath any canopy or tent, and all heating units in AVL Shared Space-authorized temporary spaces must receive winter authorization. More information is available here
  • ABCCM is seeking donations to help families and individuals with heating assistance this winter. The organization receives an average of 10-15 calls for heating assistance daily and has prevented utility shutoff for 60 households in the last 90 days. For more information, visit ABCCM’s website
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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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