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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Health Secretary: Coronavirus Trends Again Heading 'In Wrong Direction'

State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen during a news conference on Tuesday.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen during a news conference on Tuesday.

North Carolina’s top health official says the state’s coronavirus trends are again “moving in the wrong direction.”

On Tuesday, the state reported 1,152 people were in the hospital with COVID-19, the highest number since early August. On Wednesday, 1,926 new daily cases were reported. The number of reported new daily cases has been increasing since Monday.

“This worsening of our trends is concerning,” State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said at a press conference Tuesday. “We need to do all we can to turn those trends around. We do not want to have to go backwards.”

Cohen said there is “no single place, no single age, no single location” that can account for the increase in reported cases and hospitalizations. But she said she understands people are tired of wearing masks and social distancing, especially as the state continues to ease restrictions.

“I think everyone relaxes a little bit too much,” Cohen said. “We all have to remember that [if] that setting is in your home and you’re having just a few close friends, you need to be wearing a face covering. If you’re going to church or another religious setting, you need to wear a face covering.”

Cohen said as the weather becomes cooler during the changing seasons, there will be more opportunities for the virus to continue to spread. While she said hospitals currently have the capacity to manage an influx of cases, bed space is typically in high demand during flu season.

“Our capacity is going to be stretched as we head into the winter months. We now know adding COVID to that is going to be a challenge,” Cohen said.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper moved the state into Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Oct. 2. It cleared the way for limited business at bars, movie theaters and entertainment venues. The phase is expected to last until at least Oct. 23.

Cooper has called his approach to reopening “measured” and said he would rely on metrics and data to guide his decisions. Cohen has repeatedly called the state’s progress “fragile.”

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.