RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — New COVID-19 cases continue to climb across North Carolina even as the number of patients in hospitals remained flat and the count of them in intensive care hit a record low.

The weekly update released Wednesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed a 24 percent increase in the average daily case count from last week.

The state averaged nearly 1,350 new cases per day on April 23, the last day with available data. That average was just under 1,100 on April 16.

But unlike other waves of cases — when hospital admissions climbed shortly after case counts did — those two metrics don’t appear to be as closely linked.

The most recent count showed 365 patients in hospitals, and that number has been stuck in the mid-300s for nearly three weeks. During that same period of time, the average case count has nearly tripled.

And there were just 34 patients across the state in ICUs on April 23 — breaking the previous record low of 40 set one week earlier.

NCDHHS also said the death total climbed to 23,402 — an increase of 39 from last week.

State public health leaders also updated the seven metrics they’re focusing on, saying the count of COVID particles in sewage water more than doubled from last week but pointing out emergency room visits and hospital admissions remained flat.

The rate of people getting a booster rose went up a percentage point to 53 percent, and the BA.2 stealth omicron variant remains the dominant strain in the state — accounting for 98 percent of the 64 samples it genetically sequenced during the week of April 16.

VACCINE DOSE COUNT (since April 16)
5,694 first doses
6,097 second doses
426 single-shot J&J doses
43,257 booster doses
55,474 total doses