RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The BA.5 version of omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in North Carolina.

The weekly update Wednesday from the state Department of Health and Human Services showed an 8 percent jump in hospital admissions over the past week and more than 1,000 people hospitalized for the first time since March.

NCDHHS also reported a slight increase in the amount of COVID found in wastewater and a relatively flat new case count.

For the second straight week, North Carolina hospitals admitted more patients than they had in any week since February, with 971 checking in between July 3-9. That came after 895 were admitted during the previous week.

The running count of hospitalized patients topped 1,000 for the first time in four months, with that total climbing to 1,008 on July 7 — the most since there were 1,013 on March 9.

Doctors have been watching the BA.5 subvariant, which they have described as being easier to catch and transmit, with a mutation to its spike protein that helps it elude antibodies.

NCDHHS says 37 percent of the samples sequenced between June 19-July 2 were BA.5 — a fraction of a percentage point more than the BA.2.12.1 subvariant.

Most of the other measures held relatively steady: NCDHHS reported about 25,000 new cases for the second consecutive week, a drop of 511 from the previous week.

But nearly a quarter of those cases — 5,648 of them, the highest single-day count in a month — came in on July 5. 

Case totals are likely undercounts because at-home testing — which is not reported to public health agencies — has become more prevalent.

And 5.5 percent of visits to emergency rooms last week were because of COVID-like symptoms, the same rate that was reported last week.

The death total climbed to 25,3945 after the state added 138 deaths over the past week.


(Since July 6)

8,326 first doses

3,983 second doses

254 single-shot J&J doses

19,051 booster doses

31,614 total doses

CBS 17’s Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 figures since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state, and local sources to deliver a clear snapshot of what the coronavirus situation looks like now and what it could look like in the future.