RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina has added nearly 90,000 more breakthrough cases of COVID-19.

A weekly report released Thursday by the state Department of Health and Human Services indicates nearly 6 percent of the state’s 5.9 million fully vaccinated people have reported a post-vaccination case through the week that ended Jan. 15.

That rate continues to climb during the surge driven by the omicron variant. It was at 4.4 percent last week and 3.1 percent the week before that.

There is no distinction in the NCDHHS report between the fully vaccinated who have completed the initial vaccine sequence and those who also have received a booster dose. Doctors say people who have been boosted have significantly more protection from omicron than those who have not received the extra shot.

The report shows 350,242 breakthrough cases have been reported in the state since the first day of 2021. That total was at 261,364 a week ago — for a difference of 88,878.

The weekly total continues to climb: There were roughly 75,000 of them reported through the week ending Jan. 8, after just under 50,000 of them came in during the previous week.

Vaccinated people continue to be overwhelmingly more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than the unvaccinated, though people who have gotten their shots continue to account for a slightly larger share.

NCDHHS says the unvaccinated make up 68 percent of overall hospitalizations and 79 percent of those in intensive care. A week ago, those rates were 71 percent and 83 percent, respectively.

NCDHHS also reported a drop in the rate of emergency-room visits for COVID-like symptoms for the second straight week.

They accounted for 20 percent of those ER trips during the week ending Jan. 22, down from 24 percent the previous week — which itself was down from the pandemic high of 25 percent.

State public health officials consistently point to that rate as one of the earliest indicators of whether a COVID surge is improving or declining.


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.