COVID-19 cases in North Carolina tick up 78% in 2 weeks

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.

4:26 p.m.
Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 7 million children and adolescents have tested positive for coronavirus.

As the U.S. experiences a winter COVID-19 resurgence, experts say a confluence of factors is likely driving the country's infection rate up, including high case rates among the pediatric population.

Since the start of the U.S.' summer delta surge, about 3.2 million children have tested positive for the virus. With so many children and adolescents unvaccinated, the Delta variant has been the catalyst for viral spread among children. Federal data shows that about 1 in every 5 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, during that time frame, has been in a child.

In recent weeks, children have accounted for about a quarter of the country's reported weekly COVID-19 cases. Most recently, 133,000 new pediatric cases were reported last week - down from the pandemic high of 252,000 weekly pediatric cases, reported in early September. Of note, other age groups still have a higher number of new cases, per capita.

However, data shows that many other factors are also to blame for the country's recent COVID-19 surge. Most notably, millions of unvaccinated Americans continue to fall ill and be hospitalized with the virus. At this time, about 95 million Americans remain unvaccinated.

In addition, relaxed restrictions, increased transmission as a result of the highly transmissible delta variant -- which still accounts for 99.9% of new cases -- and waning vaccine immunity, are all playing a major factor in nation's latest COVID-19 surge.

-- Reporting by ABC News

1:05 p.m.
COVID-19 cases reached a level they have not been at since early October.

The newest metrics released Thursday showed 4,153 new COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. That's a 78% increase from two weeks ago and the first time adding more than 4,000 new cases in a single day in two months.

The percentage of positive cases ticked down slightly to 7.1%--down from 8% yesterday and 7.4% a week ago.

COVID-19 hospitalizations took a significant jump up. Just one day after seeing a slight decline in the number of patients being treated for COVID-19, hospitals across the state added 102 people.

Hospitals are currently treating 1,473 people for COVID-19 and 375 o those are in Intensive Care Units.

THURDAY MORNING HEADLINES

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first monoclonal antibody therapy for use before COVID-19 exposure.

AstraZeneca's Evusheld antibody cocktail can now be given to certain people for preventative use against the virus, including those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised due to a medical condition or medication, and those who have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine. People also must not be currently infected with COVID-19 or have been recently exposed to the virus.

In a recent Phase III clinical trial, AstraZeneca found that the therapy reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 infections by 83% in people who did not have the virus, had not been exposed to it and were unvaccinated, when compared to the placebo group.

AstraZeneca told ABC News it is testing the product against the new omicron variant and is "hopeful" that it will hold up against it. Results are expected to become available "within weeks," the company said. So far, Evusheld has been found to neutralize all previous COVID-19 variants of concern, it said.

AstraZeneca said it has agreed to supply the U.S. government with 700,000 doses of Evusheld, which will be distributed to states and territories at no cost and on a pro-rata basis.

WEDNESDAY
2 p.m.
New COVID-19 metrics from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services show cases are up 8 percent from last week.

The daily percent positive rate sits at 8%--down from 91% yesterday but up from 7.3% last week.

For the first time in 11 days, there are fewer COVID-19 patients in the hospital today than there were the previous day.

7:30 a.m.
Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine may protect against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said lab tests showed a booster dose increased by 25-fold the level of so-called neutralizing antibodies against omicron.

Q&A: What we know right now about the omicron variant
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Dr. Ashish Ja joined GMA on Wednesday to talk about the COVID-19 omicron variant.



WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES

The omicron variant has now been found in at least 20 states, but the good news is that preliminary data shows the variant tends to lead to less severe illnesses.

According to US health officials, the delta variant--especially among unvaccinated people--continues to drive worsening COVID-19 metrics.

The daily death average in the U.S. has increased to more than 1,150 -- up by 57% in the last week, according to federal data.

The U.S. is about 10,000 deaths away from reaching yet another grim milestone of 800,000 Americans lost to COVID-19.

The U.S. is now averaging approximately 103,000 new cases per day, which is a 19% increase in the last week and a 62% jump since late October, according to federal data.

Minnesota currently holds the country's highest case rate followed by Vermont and Wisconsin. Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Louisiana have the nation's lowest infection rate.

For the second time in two weeks, the percent positive rate in North Carolina inched above 9%. Hospitalization also is growing in North Carolina, but the good news is the percentage of patients who need to be in the ICU or on a ventilator is decreasing. Now just 26% of COVID-19 patients are in the ICU and 15% are on a ventilator.
Copyright © 2022 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.