NC COVID-19 hospitalizations hit new high as families gather for Thanksgiving

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Here are the latest updates about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in North Carolina.

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THURSDAY MORNING STORYLINES



Wednesday's report from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services showed a record 1,811 people hospitalized in the state. That was a new high and came after setting a previous high on Tuesday. The news is concerning given many people gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The latest Centers for Disease Control report predicts somewhere between 294,000 to 321,000 COVID-19 related deaths are possible by Dec. 19. On Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked Americans to keep it "small and smart'" concerning Thanksgiving celebrations.

Because of the holiday, the state is not expected to release new COVID-19 data on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY


5 p.m.
Sanford Mayor Chet Mann issued an emergency declaration to reinforce Governor Cooper's executive orders requiring the use of face coverings by persons in North Carolina and reducing the occupancy limits of most indoor activities.

Executive orders 176 and 180 mandate face coverings in public and indoors when in the presence of non-household members. It reduces mass gathering limits for indoor spaces from 25 to 10 people.

The declaration for the City of Sanford takes effect at 5 p.m., Wednesday, November 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until it is modified or rescinded by Mayor Mann.

"This enhanced State of Emergency does not include additional regulations," Mayor Mann said. "This is an effort to reinforce existing regulations, allowing the City Manager to deploy employees as needed."

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3 p.m.
Wake County Public Health has confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at HeartFields at Cary, an assisted living and memory care facility located at 1050 Crescent Green in Cary.

This is the second outbreak confirmed at this location.

2:50 p.m.
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety announced that prisons' leadership is consolidating some of its operations to help mitigate the surge of COVID-19 in North Carolina and its impact on the prison system.

As a result, the following actions were taken:
Operations were temporarily suspended at Randolph Correctional Center in Asheboro on Nov. 22 and the staff reassigned temporarily to other prisons in the region.
Operations were temporarily suspended on Nov. 20 at Southern Correctional Institution's minimum custody unit, enabling staff there to better assist in other sections of the prison in Troy.
Operations were temporarily suspended at the minimum custody unit of Piedmont Correctional Institution, located in Salisbury, on Nov. 25 so the staff can assist in the medium-custody facility in the prison complex.

The impacted offenders were transferred to other prison facilities of appropriate custody levels.

"These Prisons consolidation actions were necessary due to outbreaks of COVID-19 in the offender populations at a number of state prisons and the need for additional personnel in the prisons handling viral outbreaks," the department said in a news release.

11:50 a.m.
North Carolina on Wednesday hit another record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 1,811. Tuesday's hospitalizations were also a new record.

247 new patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 were admitted to hospitals in the last 24 hours. 306 people with suspected cases were also admitted.

69 percent of newly admitted patients are over the age of 60. 8 percent are under the age of 39.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 431 adults in ICUs across the state battling COVID-19.

More than 4,000 new cases were also reported in the state, marking only the third time that has happened since the start of the pandemic.

A total of 4,212 new cases were reported on Wednesday.

The percent of positive tests is currently at 7.3 percent.

WEDNESDAY MORNING STORYLINES



The state's newest mask mandate begins Wednesday at 5 p.m., requiring masks at all indoor public places. The most notable revisions include restaurants requiring customers to wear a mask while sitting down and gymgoers having to keep their masks on while working out.

There were fewer travelers than usual at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Wednesday morning ahead of Thanksgiving.

The Centers for Disease Control has advised against traveling and joining large gatherings for the holidays. While that may be reducing some seasonal travel, it's not being universally adhered to. The Transportation Safety Administration said Monday it screened more than 2 million people over the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Free COVID-19 testing is being offered Wednesday at Smithfield Men's Progressive Club on Old Goldsboro Road in Smithfield from 9 a.m. until noon. You don't need an appointment or to be showing symptoms to receive a test.
Copyright © 2021 ABC11-WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved - The Associated Press contributed to this report.