Coronavirus: Tracking North Carolina COVID-19 cases

Maggie Green Image
Tuesday, February 8, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As COVID-19 continues to spread through North Carolina, ABC11 is breaking down the data behind the impact of the virus on the Tar Heel state.

Testing Numbers

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, was first reported in North Carolina in March 2020.

The number of recovered patients has remained on pace with cases, following a similar trajectory throughout time.

State labs are working with universities and private labs to test COVID-19 patients across the state.

RELATED: Why you might see different numbers of COVID-19 cases depending where you look

While state health officials initially prioritized health care workers, first responders and those at high-risk for severe complications from COVID-19 for testing, North Carolina has since revised its testing guidelines as the state seeks to test between 5,000 and 7,000 people daily. Under the new guidelines, anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms or who has had exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and has not been vaccinated can be tested for the virus. State health officials recommend getting a test if you:

  • Have symptoms of COVID-19
  • Have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of symptoms
  • If you are at high risk for severe disease from COVID-19
  • :Live or work in a congregate living facility, such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, migrant farm worker camp, homeless shelter or prison
  • Are a health care worker or first responder
  • Work in an essential business where you have frequent contact with the public (i.e. grocery store employees)
  • Have attended a protest, rally or mass gathering
  • Plan to travel for the holidays to visit extended family or friends
  • Have not been vaccinated against COVID-19

Around the world, people older than 65 and those with underlying medical conditions--such as heart conditions, lung conditions, asthma and diabetes--are at greater risk of severe illness and death.

This is how North Carolina reports COVID-19 deaths

Across the country, epidemiologists noted that members of the Black community are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than people of other races. North Carolina is no exception.

In addition, members of the Latinx and Hispanic community account for about a fifth of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina, despite making up less than 10% of the state's population. At one time, nearly half of the state's COVID-19 cases were in Latinx residents.

WATCH | The Racial Divide: How minorities are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in NC


On December 11, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and BioNTech, needs to be kept at ultracold temperatures of -80C. The second vaccine, developed by Moderna, was authorized on December 18, 2020. Both vaccines requires two doses. A third, one-shot vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson was authorized on February 27, 2021.

Both Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines have since received full FDA approval.

North Carolina began distributing its vaccines in phases by age, occupation and medical conditions. Currently, anyone age 5 or older is eligible to get a vaccine in North Carolina.

Click here to see how many vaccine doses have been administered in North Carolina and where you can get your shot.

Hospital Response

COVID-19 cases continue to fill North Carolina hospitals and ICUs on a daily basis.

Data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows North Carolina's hospitals have remained strained for some time.

An ABC11 investigation showed that hospitals could run out of available beds if just 1.5 percent of the state population gets COVID-19 at the same time.

And of course, available beds are not the only challenge hospitals are facing. After months of sustained efforts to source and obtain personal protective equipment from private companies, the federal stockpile and other organizations, the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management finally has enough of each type of necessary equipment to last for at least 30 days.

RELATED: North Carolina first responders, nursing home workers feeling the effects of PPE shortages, officials say


North Carolina is not immune to the economic crisis. The state has paid more than $13 billion in unemployment claims to more than 1.5 million claimants.

RESOURCE LIST: Financial information during the COVID-19 pandemic

Social Distancing

While North Carolinians seemed to follow Gov. Roy Cooper's Stay-at-Home order and similar county orders in late March and early April 2020, by mid-April--weeks before the order was lifted--data showed North Carolinians starting to get antsy. Eight months later, those numbers have almost returned to normal.

According to anonymized cellphone location data, in the days following the order, North Carolinians drastically reduced their movement. By March 30, the average North Carolinian had reduced the distance they traveled each day by 68 percent since the outbreak began. In Durham County, residents were traveling just 0.06 miles each day.

However, anonymous cellphone location data analyzed by Safegraph shows that the percentage of North Carolinians staying at home started to peak in mid-April. By April 24, residents began to leave home more often. The changed behavior aligns with the time President Donald Trump began talking about reopening the country more often and Gov. Roy Cooper laid out his phased plan to reopen the state's economy.

By mid-June, mobility data from Google shows North Carolinians began venturing out to retail and restaurant locations more often than they did at the start of the pandemic, but less often than in the weeks before the pandemic began. That movement more or less stabilized over the next few months, even as COVID-19 cases began to creep back up in October and spike in November.

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