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Hospitalizations up but not as much as during last COVID spike, Cooper says

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 1:52 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper and members of the Coronavirus Task Force gave updates on COVID-19 at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

Secretary Kody Kinsley said the state set a single day record for COVID-19 with 19,620 cases. There was also a record number of tests done with more than 91,000 COVID-19 tests done across North Carolina on New Year’s Eve. The positivity rate is almost 30 percent.

As of today, according to the NCDHHS COVID dashboard, 3,008 people are hospitalized across the state and 603 people are in ICU.

More than 87 percent of people in the ICU are not vaccinated. Cooper said boosters have been shown to provide significant protection against the omicron variant.

Data shows the omicron variant is less severe and more likely to infect upper respiratory tract than the lungs like other variants.

“For people who have been vaccinated and especially for those who have gotten boosters, the new omicron variant has been less severe than previous surges,” said Cooper. “With these vaccines and boosters we have an amazing tool to save people’s lives and beat this pandemic – and we’ll keep our foot on the gas when it comes to getting more shots and more boosters administered.”

On Monday, the FDA approved boosters for 12-17-year-olds and this is now pending approval from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Studies are underway for vaccines for under 5-year-olds. Meanwhile, people around children and vulnerable populations are advised to wear masks.

Cooper and Kinsley urged the use of well-fitting, multi-layer masks. If possible, they suggested wearing a surgical or procedure mask, a KN95, or an N95. The NCDHHS is making some higher-grade masks available for adults at no cost in more places that need them, such as long-term care facilities and federally qualified health centers, and for schools staff and populations like migrant farm workers which are at higher risk of exposure or severe illness.

These organizations and those that provide essential services can request these masks online here and requests will be prioritized.

Cooper said we have to keep doing what we know works. He urged people to get the booster vaccine and use common sense in their daily activities.

Some testing sites in the state closed down during severe weather and Cooper said this was for the safety of healthcare workers at the sites. Meanwhile, the state is trying to procure more tests and increase access to testing; however, he said the national lab capacity for PCR tests is being strained so the state wants more rapid tests to be available to the public.

Cooper said North Carolina has enough stock of PCR tests, but the state is limited by the number of collection sites. He added that two more rapid tests have just been authorized by the FDA which will help put more tests on the market.

More information about testing locations, free tests and home tests can be found here.

To date, there is a limited supply of monoclonal antibody treatment and Kinsley said the state is communicating with the federal government to increase availability.

Other items mentioned included a COVID update of the prisons across the state. About 74 percent of inmates in correctional facilities are vaccinated and 33 percent of those have received boosters.

Also, Kinsley said the Strong Schools Toolkit is still effective and is updated regularly.

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