RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — New COVID-19 cases in North Carolina were up by more than 15 percent over the past week — roughly half the rate they grew a week earlier.

The weekly update Wednesday from the state Department of Health and Human Services also included its highest count of patients in hospitals in two months with upticks in several other measures of tracking the pandemic.

NCDHHS added roughly 27,000 new cases from May 15-21, a 16 percent increase from the approximately 23,000 that were reported during the previous week.

But that counts as improvement — last week’s count was up 30 percent from the preceding week.

And it’s certainly an undercount because of the rise in at-home tests, the results of which are seldom reported to public health officials.

About one-fifth of those 27,636 new cases came on May 16, when 5,097 were reported — the highest one-day total since Feb. 10.

North Carolina averaged 3,795 new cases per day over the past week. That seven-day average fell on the two most recent days of reporting after topping out at just under 4,000 cases per day on May 19.

That’s the same day the patient count also reached a mini-peak, with 611 marking the most since March 21. Most recently, there were 579 people hospitalized on May 21.

In one of several upticks in the key metrics, NCDHHS counted 636 people admitted to hospitals during the past week, up from 524 the week before that. The agency also noted an increase in COVID viral particles in wastewater — from 13.7 million per person to 19 million — and said the rate at which people visiting emergency rooms did so with COVID-like symptoms was slightly up but still at 4 percent for the second straight week.

NCDHHS also reported 13 more deaths, bringing the death total to 24,634.

VACCINE DOSE COUNT

(Since May 18)

6,520 first doses

5,159 second doses

295 single-shot J&J doses

39,950 booster doses

51,924 total doses