RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Nationwide, COVID-19 cases are up 26 percent in the past week.

While North Carolina largely has a low community burden for COVID-19 according to the CDC’s community levels map, the agency’s transmission map shows the state still has high levels of spread.

For the second week in a row, Wake and Hyde County are at medium community levels. The designation means people at high risk for severe illness should wear a face covering in indoor settings.

It’s not unexpected Morgan Poole said, an epidemiology program manager with Wake County Health and Human Services. Poole said omicron subvariants are largely to blame.

“Those are driving the increases we’re seeing in cases. We know that with COVID-19 we’re going to see waves but the increases that we are seeing with COVID-19 are not as steep as were seen in the past,” said Poole.

It is what labs like MAKO Medical are seeing on the testing side.

“It’s been more of a gradual growth we’re definitely seeing on our busiest days around 13,000 samples and previously we were looking at 5,000 samples a day on our busiest days,” Alyssa Kremer said, MAKO Medical’s assistant director of genomics.

She said the gradual increase is making it easier to handle testing. Also helping is a new robot that can process more samples.

“If we do have an increase, we don’t have to worry about urgently hiring staff at the last second. We can just use the additional robots that we have to support that volume,” Kremer said.

The volume is increasing. Testing is up seven percent in Wake County.

Statewide, the latest data shows a 31 percent increase in positive cases over the previous week. The data also shows a 210 percent increase since mid February. These cases are why health experts are still pushing for shots in more arms.

“Vaccines we know are our best protection against severe illness,” Poole said.