CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina set a new record Thursday for the most number of new coronavirus cases in a single day -- surpassing any such record previously set since the beginning of the pandemic.
On Thursday, state health officials announced 2,532 new cases, which continued a rise in daily cases that has been rising more quickly since the state entered Phase 3 of coronavirus reopening restrictions.
Hospitalizations are also on the rise with 1,140 patients currently hospitalized statewide. While the two week average for the positive test rate has risen to 6.1%.
"While we have sufficient hospital capacity, some of our smaller hospitals are feeling the strain already," said Dr. Mandy Cohen, the director of North Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, on Thursday.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper gave an update on the state's numbers during a briefing Thursday in Raleigh.
"Recently, like much of the country and other parts of the world, we’ve seen higher numbers," Cooper said. "It will be important to continue watching these numbers over a 14-day period. But one thing is clear – we must be even more vigilant in our effort to prevent the spread of this virus."
Since the pandemic began, North Carolina has observed 238,939 coronavirus cases. So far, 3,874 people have died from coronavirus in North Carolina.
Gov. Cooper said during his Thursday news conference that complacency will cost lives and hurt our economy.
"It’s up to every one of us to continue wearing masks, social distancing and using good judgment," Cooper said.
The uptick in cases comes following an executive order to push the state into Phase 3 of reopening on October 2. The order allowed bars, gyms and other large venues to reopen at limited capacity. Governor Cooper issued the Phase 3 order to expire on October 23.
Next week, the governor will announce what happens after October 23.
The governor said the three week time period would allow for quick adjustments to the restrictions as the state moved into cooler weather, flu season, and also awaited possible impacts on the numbers from prior reopening stages.
Like dozens of states, North Carolina is experiencing a resurgence of viral spread, which health officials link to cooler weather, more gatherings, and greater lapses in COVID-safe protocol as people deal with pandemic fatigue.
On Thursday, Cooper also announced the creation of the $117 million NC HOPE program to support people facing difficulty paying for rent and utilities.
"The NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency stood up this program while continuing their diligent work on hurricane recovery," Gov. Cooper said. "I’m grateful for their hard work and for the efforts of the United Way of North Carolina in making sure this program can support North Carolinians in need."