RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina set a new record for new daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
A total of 3,119 new lab-confirmed cases of the disease were reported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
This is the first time North Carolina has recorded more than 3,000 new cases in a single day.
The previous record was 2,908 reported on Nov. 6.
“This is not the milestone we want to be hitting, particularly as we head into holidays where people want to come together. I am asking North Carolinians to do what they do best, look out for each other,” said said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen. “Wear a mask. Wait six feet apart. Wash your hands often. We’ve had more time to learn about this devastating virus and study after study shows that these three simple actions can help keep our family, friends and neighbors from getting sick.”
The new cases put North Carolina over the 300,000 mark in terms of total cases. The state has 300,561 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The daily percent positive percentage increased to 7.9 percent from 7.5 on Tuesday – its highest level in more than a month.
The percent positive rate was last this high on Oct. 4, when it was also at 7.9 percent.
Hospitalizations also increased on Wednesday. A total of 1,246 patients are currently hospitalized with the virus.
NCDHHS said 4,698 deaths are being attributed to the virus.
On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper announced new restrictions on indoor gatherings – reducing the number of people allowed from 25 to 10.
“People who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been around a person with COVID-19, should not host or participate in any in-person gatherings until they complete their isolation or quarantine period,” NCDHHS said in a release.
Dr. Dennis Taylor, the president of the North Carolina Nurses Association, says the numbers are on track with the number of COVID-19 patients coming into the emergency department at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, where he works.
Taylor says while the number of hospitalizations remains stable for now, he’s worried what will happen one flu season is in full swing.
“It’s really not only a bed issue. It’s a staffing issue. In North Carolina we do have a shortage of nursing staff,” he said.
Taylor and other health experts point to an increase in people hosting friends and family for parties and gatherings without practicing social distancing.
Experts have warned against holding a traditional Thanksgiving dinner crowding around a table.
“I would not risk— I’ve had the same issue. We’ve had to cancel our family gatherings that we typically have at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said Taylor. “We’re just going to have to wait this year. It’s going to be the safest thing for everyone.”
According to the CDC, while COVID-19 transmission most often occurs through close contact, there is growing evidence infection can occur from airborne exposure. The CDC says this is especially true in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces for more than 30 minutes, even if people are not sitting directly next to one another.
While health experts have suggested holding gatherings outside, or in a room with opened doors and windows, the EPA says increasing ventilation alone is not enough to protect people from COVID-19 exposure.
The EPA recommends increasing ventilation along with wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and surface disinfection.
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