RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Public health officials say the number of COVID-19 particles in North Carolina’s wastewater climbed by more than 30 percent.

The big jump reported Wednesday in the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ weekly update offsets notable drops in three other key numbers the agency is using to track the pandemic.

More than 90,000 North Carolinians received the new omicron-specific booster doses of vaccine during the past week, the agency reported.

Hospital admissions were down 9 percent last week and new cases dropped by 8 percent. Additionally, the rate of visits to hospital emergency rooms for COVID-like symptoms fell to 5.1 percent after it was at 5.8 percent a week earlier.

Those three drops seem to indicate that the summer surge driven by the BA.5 omicron subvariant is fading: That strain accounted for 78 percent of the samples sequenced by labs across the state from Aug. 28-Sept. 10, down slightly from the rate reported a week ago.

But the amount of virus turning up in sewage — a reliable indicator of a future surge — continued to be volatile: There were an average of 16.9 million virus particles found per person last week, up from 12.6 million a week earlier.

That came after a 33 percent drop was reported last week.

The opposite happened with the state’s hospital numbers: NCDHHS reported 1,011 people were admitted last week, down from 1,112 a week earlier — when the agency reported a 10 percent increase.

The 18,447 new cases reported by the state marked the smallest weekly total since early May, the last week with fewer than 20,000 of them. But those case numbers don’t include the ones detected by home tests that are not reported in those official counts.

The state said 94,911 doses of the new boosters were added last week, and they made up 92 percent of the weekly total of vaccine doses.

NCDHHS also reported another 44 deaths, bringing the total to 26,458.


(Since Sept. 14)

3,443 first doses

3,232 second doses

60 single-shot J&J doses

1,761 original booster doses

94,911 new booster doses

103,387 total doses