RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State officials report a lower rate of people are visiting North Carolina’s emergency rooms across the state with symptoms of COVID-19.

The state Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday said 21 percent of ER visits during the first week of January were due to symptoms of COVID — the first time in two months that it dropped from the previous week.

NCDHHS says those symptoms accounted for a pandemic-record 24 percent of ER visits during the week that ended Jan. 1.

That rate had steadily climbed since the week that ended Nov. 13 — when it was at 4 percent.

State public health officials have consistently pointed to that rate as one of the first indicators of whether a COVID surge is getting better or worse.

It comes as the number of reported breakthrough COVID-19 cases in North Carolina kept climbing, with more than 75,000 of them coming in during the week that ended Jan. 8. The state added just under 50,000 of them during the previous week.

NCDHHS has reported a total of 261,364 post-vaccination — or, breakthrough — cases of COVID among 5.9 million fully vaccinated people. It says 4.4 percent of those vaccinated people have reported a breakthrough case, up from 3.1 percent a week ago.

Unvaccinated people continue to make up the vast majority of patients in hospitals and in intensive care, though the vaccinated account for a slightly larger share.

NCDHHS says 71 percent of COVID patients in hospitals are unvaccinated, down from 77 percent a week ago and 80 percent the week before that. The unvaccinated also make up 83 percent of those in ICUs, down from 87 percent last week and 88 percent the week before that.

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.