RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - North Carolina reported on Thursday the most COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic began.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said there were 18,571 new confirmed cases.
The previous record for new cases was on January 9th at 11,708.
State health officials say since Tuesday cases across the state have been spiking. On Wednesday, there were 9,377 new cases.
Dr. Ron May, chief medical officer at CarolinaEast Medical, says the CDC anticipated this climb about a month ago.
“The numbers that we are seeing are worrisome, but not unexpected,” said Dr. May.
“We are concerned that even a very small proportion of these cases ending up in the hospital could overwhelm our hospital system and increase the loss of lives of those most vulnerable," said Kody Kinsley, DHHS secretary.
The number of people in the hospital with the virus also continues to climb. The latest figures from DHHS show 2,258 hospitalizations, nearly doubling since the beginning of December.
In Onslow County, testing numbers did not break record for the county, but lines were still full with individuals needing a COVID test.
“Our testing centers are at very high capacity and are really seeing a tremendous need in the community,” said Onslow County health director Kristen Hoover. “We expect that the rest of the week will probably follow much of the same.”
While waiting to be tested, Hoover says proper etiquette is important to ensure the safety of those getting tested as well as those performing the tests.
“Try to mask when you’re around others, try not to spread anything to anyone else, and isolate yourself,” Hoover said.
Daily case reports aren’t the only figure to have broken a state record today. The number of people visiting the emergency room for COVID-like illness sets a state-wide high at 4,171.
While the emergency room is a good place to go if you are in need of immediate medical attention, Hoover reminds the public that it is not the place to go for a COVID test saying, “We want the emergency rooms to have the capacity to take care of those health needs that we see every day.”
Ahead of New Year’s Eve, state health officials are warning people to avoid large gatherings, especially if they are unvaccinated.
Dr. May sites predictions on the spread of omicron expecting cases to double every two to three days.
“Just simple, basic arithmetic would tell you that it’s going to be a lot of people in a very short period of time,” said Dr. May.
Health officials say to keep gatherings for the New Year small and host them outside. If inside, consider wearing masks and have windows open for ventilation.