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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 Begins 2021 With Record Highs In COVID-19 Cases And Positivity Rate

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North Carolina began 2021 with the most confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the state since the pandemic began.

The state's Department of Health and Human Services said 9,527 new coronavirus cases were identified on Friday, the first day of the new year. That shattered the previous single-day high for cases of 8,444 set on Dec. 18.

That high number was followed by another 9,000-plus day: On Saturday, 9,356 new cases were reported.

Additionally, a record 15.5% of COVID-19 tests performed were positive in Saturday's data report. Health officials have said they would like the positivity rate to be around 5%.

Data reports for both Friday and Saturday were released in one batch Saturday due to the New Year's Day holiday.

“We begin 2021 in our most dangerous position in this pandemic. We have critically high rates of spread in much of our state,” state Health Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “I encourage you to avoid getting together indoors with anyone who doesn’t live with you. If you plan to see other people keep it outside and very small. Wear a mask the whole time. We must do all that we can to protect one another.”

Currently, 3,479 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 — another record high — with 783 of those people in intensive care.

In a news release, NCDHHS highlighted two warnings issued by the White House Coronavirus Task Force earlier this week:

  • If you are under 40 and you gathered beyond your immediate household, you need to assume you became infected with COVID-19 even if you don’t have any symptoms. You are dangerous to others and must isolate away from anyone at increased risk for severe disease and get tested; and
  • If you are over 65 or if you have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked and you should have groceries and medications delivered.

The latest Phase 3 North Carolina coronavirus restrictions, which includes a 10 p.m. curfew, are slated to expire Jan. 8.

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