RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed in recent weeks amid spread of the more contagious delta variant.
But despite the rises in cases, the state appears unlikely to implement new restrictions.
It is instead moving forward with plans to eliminate its statewide mask mandate and ease masking guidelines for high school students starting on Friday.
This has prompted concerns from teacher advocates that it may be less safe to return to work.
The latest state data shows hospitalizations have doubled in the last two weeks and the rolling average of daily new cases has increased by nearly 200%.
On July 21, Gov. Cooper announced guidance for masks in schools. He said schools Kindergarten – 8th grade should require all children and staff to wear masks inside regardless of vaccination status. For grades 9-12, anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including students, should wear a mask indoors.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released their daily update involving COVID-19 cases within the state.
As of Tuesday, there are now 880,745 PCR positive cases and 158,231 antigen positive cases, 1,031 people hospitalized and 13,590 COVID-19-related deaths.
That is 1,603 new total cases and 10 new deaths from Monday.
A total of 14,293,911 total COVID-19 tests have been completed in North Carolina.
The percent of positive COVID-19 tests statewide is 10.4%, the first time since February it’s hit over 10%.
Here's the breakdown of confirmed cases in local areas: