RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — New COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions kept falling across North Carolina even as officials reported a spike in the amount of the virus in wastewater.
Cases fell by 7 percent and the number of people admitted to hospitals with COVID dropped below 1,000 for the first time since mid-December according to the weekly update Wednesday from the state Department of Health and Human Services.
And people once again showed up at emergency departments with COVID symptoms at a lower rate than they did a week earlier.
Yet NCDHHS also said there were nearly 50 percent more COVID particles found in wastewater during the week of Jan. 29-Feb. 4 than there were during the previous week.
Chances are, those viral particles were the XBB.1.5 omicron variant, which accounted for 44 percent of the samples sequenced during the week that ended Jan. 28 — the highest its share has been so far.
State officials say the total number of people getting the new bivalent booster specifically designed to protect against those omicron subvariants only increased by 12,119 since last week. That keeps the rate of vaccinated people getting one at 21 percent.
NCDHHS reported 11,811 new cases last week, marking the fifth consecutive weekly drop and the fewest since the first week of December.
Hospital admissions fell for the fourth straight week, with just 834 people checking into them last week. It’s the first sub-1,000 week since the middle of December and the fewest since there were 722 during the week ending Dec. 10.
But the count of viral particles in sewage — a key predictor of a surge — climbed for the second week in a row, with an average of 28.6 million particles per person counted at treatment centers across the state. That figure was 19.3 million a week ago.
The state says 4.2 percent of ER visits last week were for COVID symptoms, down from 4.5 percent a week earlier.
NCDHHS also added another 133 deaths to the total, which climbed to 28,235.