CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported the largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing the statewide total to 41,249.
Friday's report of 1,768 new lab-confirmed cases also says the state completed a record 21,442 tests in the last 24 hours. The percent positive of overall tests increased as well, going to 10% from 9%. This is one of the highest percentages of positive coronavirus tests in country, according to DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.
RELATED: North Carolina COVID-19 dashboard
A small sliver of reprieve with the key metrics is that hospitalizations are slightly down, with 760 people in the hospital with COVID-19 across North Carolina. Prior to Friday's data, the state has reported single-day records for hospitalizations four straight days.
When asked whether the spike in cases is related to increased testing, DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said it is not the only factor and that the acceleration of the increases shows the virus is spreading.
"The timing is very much linked to the last 2 to 3 weeks," Dr. Cohen said, referring the state's reopening, noting that when people move around more, the virus moves around more.
Dr. Cohen also believes the data shows North Carolina is in its "first wave" of the pandemic, not the so-called "second wave," stating the state "took early and aggressive action" to flatten the curve and this is the state's first notable spike.
The governor also addressed his thoughts on moving the state into further reopening phases amid the growing number of cases.
Gov. Cooper said no decision has been made yet about what's been called Phase 2.5 and Phase 3, but said, "neither one of those phases is off the table here."
The governor said he thinks the people of North Carolina can play a big part in getting the numbers under control, noting social distancing, wearing a cloth face mask, and washing hands are still crucial tasks that can help slow the spread of the virus. He also said community leaders should set a good example too with these practices.
Governor Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen gave their briefing at 2 p.m. Friday from Raleigh. That full briefing is available on WCNC.com, the WCNC Charlotte Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter and the WCNC Charlotte app.
As North Carolina leaders weigh their next step, South Carolina is moving forward in reopening, despite a spike in COVID-19. Governor Henry McMaster issued a new executive order Friday that allows bowling alleys to reopen and lifts capacity restrictions on retail stores. Thursday was the state's biggest spike for new cases in a single day since the pandemic began.
“South Carolinians know what they can do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, and it’s incumbent upon each and every one of us to follow the advice and recommendations of the public health experts,” said Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement. “We also must continue our methodical approach towards getting South Carolinians back to work and businesses contributing to the state’s economy. Businesses simply can’t be closed indefinitely, but they can operate in a safe way with our collective knowledge of the virus.”