The pandemic just couldn’t leave 2021 without a bang. On New Year’s Eve, amid an unprecedented post-holiday spike thanks to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, North Carolina reported its highest number of new cases in a single day yet.

In the last 24 hours, more than 19,000 people—a population roughly the size of Knightdale—have tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, granted the state did order thousands of new test appointments in the preceding days: N.C. DHHS reports a total of 76,186 tests were completed on Thursday. But that figure doesn’t include the thousands likely testing positive through at-home tests.

Still, today appears to be the greatest spike in cases since the start of the pandemic. 

Of the tens of thousands who waited in long lines to get tested Thursday, nearly 23 percent tested positive. Although more people are contracting the virus, thanks to high vaccination rates it appears fewer are getting seriously ill—2,400 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, about a quarter of the max capacity hospitals experienced early last year. The vaccination rate in adults has remained stagnant at 69 percent.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in March of 2020, 19,426 have died.

Governor Roy Cooper’s office did not immediately return the INDY‘s request for comment on the historic surge in cases. Nor has any guidance been issued on New Year’s Eve plans, though luckily it seems many business owners are choosing to cancel events or shutter due to the spike in cases.

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