RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s been nearly a year since the weekly count of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina dipped this low.
The state’s key numbers continued their prolonged drops, with new cases down 26 percent and hospital admissions falling by 16 percent in the latest weekly update released Wednesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.
The count of viral particles in wastewater during the week of March 5-11 dropped by 15 percent from the previous week, and even fewer people visited emergency rooms with COVID symptoms than they did a week earlier.
The weekly case count has dropped every week of 2023.
A total of 4,104 new cases were reported to the state last week, about 1,400 fewer than there were a week earlier and roughly half of what it was a month ago.
That total is about one-sixth of what it was at the most recent peak at the end of December.
Nearly all of those newest cases appear to be the highly infectious XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant that is nicknamed the “kraken.” It accounted for 89 percent of samples sequenced by labs across the state over the past two weeks and 93 percent of those from last week alone.
That variant’s share is the only number that went up: Fewer people wound up in hospitals with the virus.
The 516 people admitted to hospitals last week were about 100 fewer than in the previous week, and is one-third of what it was two months ago.
The state also counted an average of 8.4 million viral particles per person in wastewater last week — way down from the 9.9 million a week before that — and says just 2.4 percent of ER visits were caused by COVID symptoms, the first time that rate has been below 3 percent since April 2022.
NCDHHS reported another 43 deaths over the past week, bringing the total to 28,475.