For the third time in the past week, North Carolina has set a new record for COVID-19 cases identified.
On Thursday, a record 10,398 cases of the coronavirus were reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, 137 deaths in the state were attributed to COVID-19, and 3,960 people with the virus were hospitalized for treatment — the sixth consecutive day there has been a new record number in that category.
The record numbers come a week after North Carolina reported back-to-back days of more than 9,000 new cases of the coronavirus that prompted state Health Secretary Mandy Cohen to issue a statement saying “We begin 2021 in our most dangerous position in this pandemic.”
On Thursday, Cooper tweeted, "We're at a critical point in our fight against this virus."
North Carolina has set a new one-day record with nearly 10,400 new cases. These numbers paint a dark picture — COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across our state. We're at a critical point in our fight against this virus and all need to take responsibility for our own actions.
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) January 7, 2021
On Wednesday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper extended Phase 3 restrictions in the state for three more weeks. Among those restrictions are a 10 p.m. curfew, a mandatory face mask requirement when among others in public, and limitations on mass gatherings and restaurant capacity.
Cohen also issued a secretarial directive advising many of the same recommendations to protect health that have been given since the start of the pandemic: Stay home, avoid gatherings, wear masks if you must be among people and get tested if you have symptoms.
Cohen also said Wednesday that community spread of the virus is so high in North Carolina – 84 of the state’s 100 counties are considered in the “red zone” for “critical community spread” – that many people could have been exposed to the virus and are passing it along unknowingly.
“There is a high risk that you have COVID right now and don’t know it,” she said.
Although hospitalizations have increased dramatically – by about 1,700 in just one month – Cooper said he was not yet worried about hospital capacity in the state because health care workers learned a lot about treatment and management of the coronavirus in the early months of the pandemic.
“They are managing their hospital space, their ICU space,” he said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher, but they are working very hard to do it.”