Thanksgiving Wave? Record COVID-19 Numbers Continue In NC, SC
North Carolina on Wednesday reported 6,495 new coronavirus cases, a new record high. It also reported its 12th straight day of record-high hospitalizations. Meanwhile, South Carolina reported its seventh day out of the last eight of at least 20% of COVID-19 tests coming back positive.
These worsening numbers come two weeks after Thanksgiving, and might be reflecting increased travel and gatherings for the holiday.
The record numbers also come one day after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued a modified stay-at-home order that takes effect Friday at 5 p.m.
The order requires people in the state to stay home and businesses to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. All on-site alcohol sales have also been ordered to stop at 9 p.m.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s health and human services secretary, indicated at a press conference Tuesday that she expected to see North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends continue to worsen this week after people traveled or got together with people outside of their household for the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We have yet to see the impact fully of Thanksgiving gatherings,” Cohen said. “What we saw last week in our numbers, I think, was likely those who went to Thanksgiving already sick. What I expect to see this week is people who now are going to be coming back COVID-positive because they were with those who were, unfortunately, sick at Thanksgiving.”
In South Carolina, state epidemiologist Linda Bell said, "Our case numbers have reached an unprecedented level here in South Carolina, as well as in the country as a whole. Our data points are worsening, unfortunately."
South Carolina has reported six straight days of at least 2,000 coronavirus cases, and on Wednesday had a record 1,217 people hospitalized for COVID-19.
“It appears many people have let their guard down," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Wednesday. "I know we have fatigue from all the things that we need to do, but now is not the time for us to let up. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.”
South Carolina officials also said they expect 200,000-300,000 COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the calendar year. North Carolina has said it expects about 85,000 vaccine doses by next week.
Hospital and health care workers have been prioritized by both states to be the first to receive the vaccine.
WFAE's Nick de la Canal contributed to this story.