RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus offered promising figures about COVID-19 figures Wednesday.
"Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from COVID-19 was the lowest since March 2020. We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We're not there yet, but the end is in sight," said Ghebreyesus.
In North Carolina, new weekly cases fell under 20,000 for the first time since May, and the number of COVID-19 virus particles found in wastewater hit its lowest point since April. However, hospitalizations increased by nearly 10%, while the percentage of emergency room visits increased slightly--from 5.3% to 5.4%.
This comes as the health departments and pharmacies across the state are offering updated, COVID-19 bivalent booster doses from Pfizer and Moderna.
"It's just for the safety of myself and those that are around me in my life. There's a lot of people that I kind of interact with on a day-to-day basis, that could really suffer from getting sick from COVID, so I myself want to make sure I am as protected as I can be to keep the other people in my life as safe as they can be as well," said Kevin Woicyk, who received his booster Wednesday afternoon.
Lauren Presti Filippo, who also received her booster Wednesday afternoon, added: "Just between the different jobs that we have, that's what really leads us to really mask on occasion or really every day when we're in a crowd, and continue to get vaccines."
The two stopped by the Wake County Human Services Center on Departure Drive, one of five county-run sites offering the shots. A county spokesperson said appointments at that location, as well as Wake County Public Health Center on Sunnybrook Road are booked until next week. As of Wednesday morning, the county administered 1,017 shots, which equals about 250 on a daily basis.
The updated shots, which address both the original strain and BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, were given the green light by the FDA and CDC despite no human trial data being available at the time, though human testing has previously been conducted on bivalent shots. NCDHHS reported that 78,554 people statewide have received their updated boosters; the Moderna version is available to anybody 18 and older, and the Pfizer version for people 12 and older. In both cases, people need to be at least two months out from their most recent dose.
Gregg Alston received his second booster last month and plans to get the new shots when able to do so. He said he believes the shots helped dull his symptoms when he contracted COVID.
"I have been preaching this to everybody. Go ahead and get your booster shots. I do credit it, I felt bad one day. And it wasn't even that bad, just felt a little under the weather," Alston said.
The warm weather has allowed for more outdoor activities, but as temperatures dip in the coming months, health officials are urging people to get vaccinated now.
"You definitely want to time your administration of your next booster such that you are protected throughout this coming winter season when we anticipate that numbers could go up again," said Jessica Dixon, an Infection Prevention Specialist at WakeMed.
COVID-19 testing has fallen off sharply, with fewer than 350,000 tests being reported nationally on a daily basis, down 86% from its peak last winter. However, at-home testing, which does not need to be reported, is now widely available.
"If you have a positive home test, you're positive. Positive home tests are very reliable. It's the negative home test that you can't necessarily trust. So if you're symptomatic and you are negative on a home test, re-testing, isolating in the meantime, and certainly, a PCR (test) is an option," said Dixon.