Pitt County saw its highest single day of new COVID-19 cases since August on Thursday as North Carolina’s single-day record passed the 4,000 mark and the CDC urged Americans to avoid holiday travel.
The county recorded 119 new cases on Thursday, up from 42 the day before, according to data from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the highest single-day number since Aug. 30, when there were 127 new cases.
The return of ECU students contributed to multiple days in late August when cases numbered higher than 100. The surge peaked on Aug. 27 with 163 cases.
A total of 7,220 cases have now been recorded since the pandemic began in March. Forty-four people have died, 6,449 people are believed to be recovered while 727 cases are active, according to the Pitt County Health Department.
Thursday’s high is part of an upward trend locally that echoes statewide numbers. DHHS reported 4,296 new COVID-19 cases throughout the state on Thursday, the highest number of single-day cases reported since March.
The previous one-day statewide high of 3,885 occurred on Saturday. The state has now reported a total of 325,158 cases since March. Deaths are were at 4,936 on Thursday.
Hospitalizations also are at an all-time high across the state. A total of 1,512 people were hospitalized on Tuesday and 1,538 people were hospitalized on Wednesday. Vidant Health reported 107 people were hospitalized across its system as of Wednesday.
State and local officials have been advising residents to avoid holiday travel and gatherings that don’t involve immediate family.
Pitt County Health Director John Silvernail on Wednesday encouraged people who do gather for Thanksgiving to eat outside if possible and have household groups sit together. Anyone who is sick should stay home.
Residents who travel are encouraged to use free testing sites to determine if they are positive for the virus. People who are positive should stay home, those who test negative should continue to mask and maintain distance.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pleaded with Americans in a Thursday announcement to avoid travel for Thanksgiving altogether and to only spend the holiday with people from inside their household.
The agency’s Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance, according to the Associated Press.
“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” she said.
If families do decide to include returning college students, military members or others, the CDC also recommended added precautions: Gatherings should be outdoors if possible, with people keeping 6 feet apart and wearing masks and just one person serving the food.
Whether Americans heed the warning is another matter. The deadly comeback by the virus has been blamed in part on pandemic fatigue, or people getting tired of masks and other precautions. And surges were seen last summer after Memorial Day and July Fourth, despite blunt warnings from health authorities.
The United States has seen more than 11 million diagnosed infections and over 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus. CDC scientists believe that somewhere around 40 percent of people who are infected do not have obvious symptoms but can still spread the virus.