RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — More than 18,000 new cases of COVID-19 — by far, a single-day record in North Carolina — were reported Thursday by state public health officials.

With the fast-spreading omicron variant circulating and the impact of Christmas gatherings already showing up in the numbers, a state-record 22 percent of the most recent batch of tests was found to be positive and 60 more deaths were reported, the state Department of Health and Human Services said.

The massive count of new cases — 18,571 of them — was more than 6,000 more than the previous record set Feb. 3 when a data glitch led to 12,079 cases coming in.

It also was nearly twice as many as the 9,377 that were reported Wednesday — and more than five times as many as the 3,698 on Tuesday.

It pushed the seven-day average past 7,700 for the first time since Jan. 15. That average never climbed higher than 7,165 during the delta-driven surge in the late summer and fall.

NCDHHS says 22 percent of tests performed Tuesday came back positive — just the second time since the pandemic started that that figure reached 20 percent. Both of those instances came this week, with 20.2 percent of tests done Sunday also coming back positive.

The count of patients in hospitals increased by at least 130 for the third consecutive day, climbing to 2,258 — the most since Oct. 13.

NCDHHS also says a record 4,171 people went to emergency rooms with COVID-like illnesses. The death total reached 19,399 after the highest single-day death total since Nov. 3.

VACCINE DOSE COUNTER

  • 6,986 first doses
  • 6,252 second doses
  • 678 single-shot J&J doses
  • 34,711 booster doses
  • 48,627 total doses