RALEIGH, N.C. — About 5,000 more cases of COVID-19 were reported this week in North Carolina, along with a slight increase in hospital admissions.
Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) revealed 28,369 cases were reported on June 1. The previous week, nearly 24,000 cases were reported. Additionally, this week saw 734 COVID hospital admissions, up from 643 last week.
The case numbers appear to correlate with early warning indicators tracked by NCDHHS. Wastewater monitoring found this week, 26.5 million virus particles were discovered; last week, the number was 19.1 million.
While most of North Carolina's 100 counties remain at low levels of coronavirus in their communities, Durham County is now back to high levels. The last time a North Carolina county was at the high level was soon after the maps tracking coronavirus levels were initially created. 15 counties are at the medium level.
The Charlotte area and all of the surrounding counties are still in the “low’ level according to the CDC.
77% of adults in North Carolina have been vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 56% of the state's total vaccinated population has had at least one booster or additional dose. 38% of children aged 5-17 have also been vaccinated with at least one dose.
For the week ending May 21, 2022, the predominant variant remains the BA.2 version of the virus. 97% of all sequenced cases involve that variant, while 3% turned up BA.2.12.1.
Do these changing metrics mean a summer surge is on the way?
"There’s not been any emergence of subvariants or emergence of vaccine evasion that puts us at concern right now. Not to say increase in cases isn’t a concern in and of itself, but I don’t think it has the potential to send waves of people coming to the hospital like omicron," Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist with Duke Health said.
As cases rise, many of them have been reinfections, raising some questions about the strength of immunity from a previous infection.
"What’s been a little disappointing I think, to me at least, is that we’re starting to see reinfections in people who have had omicron get omicron again," Wolfe said. "Whereas previously, it was really limited to folks who were exposed to a totally different variant.”
The current situation is still nowhere near the severity of the omicron variant surge, but doctors say that is not a reason to completely disregard safety measures proven to slow the spread.
"People are tired, and they want to go out and they want to do things, which I think are all normal impulses and we think they are healthy things to do. I just think, where we are is we want to make sure people are still thinking of those who are most vulnerable," Dr. Adia Ross with Durham Regional Hospital said.
Doctors said it's important to remember the case counts reported are an underestimate because so many people are using at home tests.