RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Fewer than 3,000 COVID-19 patients are in North Carolina hospitals, the first time since early January that it dipped below that threshold.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday also reported its highest new case count of the week and moved the state closer to another milestone death.

In yet another indication that the surge driven by the omicron variant is fading, the agency also says tests are confirming new cases at the lowest rate since Christmas Eve.

But the most glaring number reflects the continued drops in how full the state’s hospitals are with COVID patients.

The 2,872 people hospitalized marked the fewest since Jan. 3, and the first time that figure has been below 3,000 since the following day.

The total fell for the 20th straight day, by an average of 117 patients a day after dropping by 169 since Tuesday.

The 6,079 new cases were the most since Feb. 12 and snapped a string of three straight days with fewer than 5,000.

Yet even with the daily increase, the trend lines continued to point down: The seven-day average fell below 6,000 for the first time in 2022. North Carolina averaged just under 5,700 new cases each day over the past week.

And 12.5 percent of the tests Monday confirmed new cases — the lowest that rate has been since Dec. 24, when it was at 11.8 percent. It was regularly higher than 30 percent in January.

But North Carolina appears on track to reach its 22,000th COVID death Thursday, after the 69 deaths recorded by NCDHHS pushed the total to 21,968.

VACCINE DOSE COUNT

  • 1,752 first doses
  • 2,276 second doses
  • 119 single-shot J&J doses
  • 4,438 booster doses
  • 8,585 total doses

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.