New reported cases of COVID-19 in North Carolina dropped over the weekend, but hospitalizations went up for the 16th consecutive day as the delta variant continues to spread.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,133, 1,910 and 1,401 new cases on Saturday, Sunday and Monday respectively.
Sunday marked the first time since July 19 that new daily case numbers had gone down, and even with that drop in new cases, it’s still over four times what the state was seeing on a day-to-day basis at the beginning of July.
Even as cases dropped Sunday and Monday, hospitalizations continue to rise.
As of Monday, 943 people in North Carolina are in the hospital due to COVID-19, the highest number since May 11 and the double the amount just two weeks ago.
Delta variant is driving recent surge in cases
Health officials say the increase in cases and hospitalizations is due to the delta variant, a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
As of last week, 82% of coronavirus samples among those hospitalized at Duke Health hospitals in the Triangle were the delta variant, The N&O reported.
Among cases statewide as of the week ending July 10, over 75% are the delta variant according to state health officials.
And in recent weeks, 94% of all positive cases are among those unvaccinated.
As of Monday, 58% of those eligible for vaccine in North Carolina — ages 12 and up — have received at least one dose. Among adults, the rate is 60%.
North Carolina is behind the curve nationally, as 66% of those 12 and up and 69% of adults across the country have received at least dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And North Carolina ranks among the bottom half of states for doses administered per 100,000 people.
A News & Observer analysis conducted in June of vaccine data in North Carolina found that unvaccinated populations are disproportionately among low-income households.