RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina public health officials are reporting the smallest one-day count of new COVID-19 cases in more than two weeks — even as the number of patients in hospitals once again hit a record high at nearly 4,700.

The 17,374 new cases added Wednesday by the state Department of Health and Human Services marked the fewest since Jan. 4 and led to the first daily drop in the seven-day average case count in a month.

As the fast-spreading omicron variant continues to rage across the globe, NCDHHS has reported at least 10,000 new cases every day in January. But Wednesday was just the third day in the last two weeks with fewer than 20,000.

The state averaged just over 31,000 new cases a day over the past week — 1,150 fewer than it averaged Tuesday, the first daily decrease in that figure since Dec. 14.

It came as the agency also reported a record rate of recent COVID tests found to be positive — 35.9 percent of them.

But the 4,689 patients in hospitals were a daily increase of 59 from the previous record set Tuesday. It’s the eighth consecutive day with more than 4,000 hospitalized COVID patients.

A day after the state recorded its 20,000th COVID death, another 37 fatalities were reported to bring the total to 20,037.

VACCINE DOSE COUNT

  • 10,707 first doses
  • 7,487 second doses
  • 1,659 single-shot J&J doses
  • 39,585 booster doses
  • 59,438 total doses