COVID-19 hospitalizations climb in NC

More than 4,700 patients were reported in hospitals across the Tar Heel State, according to new numbers from the state’s health agency.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Editor’s note: NCDHHS released additional metrics on Thursday, January 20. This article has been updated to reflect the new information.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported more people were in the hospital for COVID-19 this year than at the same time last year, breaking a record for coronavirus-related hospitalizations set in early 2021.

According to the latest numbers released on Thursday, Jan. 20, NCDHHS reported 4,741 patients were hospitalized for the virus, marking the third record-setting day in a row. NCDHHS data showed ventilator use was still below peak levels seen during the delta surge of late summer and last winter’s surge, reinforcing research suggesting the omicron variant causes less severe disease than other variants.

Over the last two weeks, there have been 29,580 new cases and a 31% positivity rate.

MORE NEWS: Inside a hospital battling omicron and staffing shortages

On Tuesday, NCDHHS previously noted the two-week rolling percent positivity was at 30.3%, with 31,902 COVID-19 cases reported across the state that day. However, the agency noted the case count was higher because there was more delayed reporting early on in the year.

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“During Dec. 31, 2021, through Jan. 14, 2022, some laboratory results from Premier Lab Solutions were not submitted to NCDHHS. As a result, 46,983 test results (including 8,094 positive results) from this period were not included in data on the NCDHHS data dashboard,” said a statement from the agency. “This issue did not cause any delays in results being sent to patients or providers. The issue with submission of results from Premier Lab Solutions to NCDHHS has been resolved; case and test data reported for January 18, 2022 will be higher as it will incorporate data that would have been reported on earlier dates. Additional delays in reporting may occur as laboratories are processing unprecedented numbers of COVID-19 tests.”

RELATED: DHEC says they’re working to fix COVID-19 test backlog, says there has been ‘substandard’ performance at some labs

Backlogs in reporting aren’t unique to North Carolina; in South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control said some labs processing testing results were to blame. DHEC said about 97% of COVID-19 tests done in the Palmetto State are processed by large, non-DHEC labs that have fallen behind because of a high volume of tests and virus-related staffing issues.

Since the start of the pandemic, NCDHHS has reported more than 2 million total COVID-19 cases across the state and more than 20,000 deaths, with more than 23.5 million tests for the virus completed since tracking started on Sept. 22, 2020.

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