RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Here's the latest news and information on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccines.
The number of hospitalizations has risen to 5,158 after 60 more people were admitted Thursday with the virus.
Thursday numbers sets a new record across NC, being the third day in a row the numbers remained above 5,000.
The total number of new COVID-19 cases across the state also increased Thursday to 28,753 from Wednesday's total of 20,286.
THURSDAY MORNING HEADLINES
More N95 masks are scheduled to arrive in Raleigh today.
CVS said it expects to receive its shipment of N95 masks from the federal government today. However, not all of the thousands of CVS locations will be able to give you an N95.
That's because the shipment is expected to roll out to different stores at different times. So it depends on which stores receive the shipments first.
Once a pharmacy does have the masks, they will put up signs to indicate that they have them in stock and that there will be a limit of three given out per person.
Walgreens said it also expects to receive mask shipments this week. Those stores won't start handing them out until Friday.
Daily COVID-19-related deaths -- which are a lagging indicator -- are steadily increasing to their highest point in nearly one year, according to federal data.
The U.S. is reporting an average of more than 2,100 new fatalities each day, surpassing the average from last summer's delta surge. However, the nation's death toll remains significantly lower than last winter when the U.S. peaked at about 3,400 deaths per day.
Since Thanksgiving, there have been nearly 84,000 confirmed deaths.
Meanwhile, the U.S. case rate is steadily falling, down by 6% in the last week -- although case rates still remain higher than at any other point of the pandemic, according to federal data.
ABC11 speaks with health expert Dr. Betsy Tilson about rising COVID-19 case numbers and if we are seeing the peak of the Omicron Surge.
"Looking at trends from other states, other countries, and some early indication in our key trends, we may be nearing the peak of that (Omicron)", Tilson said.
A new record was set today in cases of COVID-19. The number of people in the hospital across NC has gone up by 35 people bringing the total to 5,090. The state reported a total of 20,286 new cases Wednesday.
Even as the omicron COVID-19 variant continues to sweep the globe, scientists are now monitoring a new mutation of omicron, dubbed BA.2.
The World Health Organization maintains that BA.2 is not a "variant of concern," meaning there is no current evidence to suggest this new subvariant will worsen COVID-19 transmission, illness severity, or efficacy of vaccines and public health efforts like masking and social distancing.
BA.2 numbers around the world are rising, with at least 40 countries reporting cases to a global variant tracking database, but the subvariant has spread rapidly in Denmark and the UK, with almost half of recent cases in Denmark attributed to BA.2.
Wake County is reducing the hours of its five testing locations from 12 hours to 8 hours per day starting today.
The new hours will be from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
The hours reduction only affects the five testing locations operated by Wake County Public Health, and the county said it can make that reduction due to the increasing testing capacity of state operated drive-thru testing locations, local community driven testing capabilities and the expansion of at-home testing.
Wake County Public Health will still be able to schedule more than 8,000 daily appointments, which totals around 50,000 tests per week.
WEDNESDAY MORNING HEADLINES
Another COVID-19 testing options is opening in Wake county.
The newest testing center will be located at Apex Community Park on Laura Duncan Road. It'll be open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
That will be the 11th site offering drive-through testing in Wake County, and it's the second new site to open this week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports just 40 percent of Americans have received their COVID-19 booster dose--which is now considered necessary for proper protection against the omicron variant.
The CDC also said the number of booster doses given out every day has started to decline. Under 500,000 people are getting their boosters every day now, down from more than 1 million in early December.
Free N95 masks expected to arrive at CVS, Walgreens starting today
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