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Coronavirus updates for Sept. 1: Here’s what to know in North Carolina this week

The Charlotte Observer 9/1/2022 Simone Jasper, The Charlotte Observer

We’re tracking information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back every Thursday for updates.

20,000 new COVID cases reported

At least 20,855 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, down from 22,041 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 1,120 new weekly COVID-19 hospital patient admissions, a drop from 1,259 the previous week, according to figures through Aug. 27, the most recent metrics available. The daily average of adult coronavirus patients in intensive care was 157, compared to 152 the week before.

The figures were released Wednesday, Aug. 31, about five months after health officials started adjusting information on their coronavirus dashboard and publishing weekly COVID-19 data. The data had previously been released almost every day.

Roughly 77% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 73% are fully vaccinated. Of the state’s total population, about 63% are fully vaccinated and about 67% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination metrics to the nearest whole number.

More than 3.9 million “additional/booster” doses have been administered in North Carolina as of Aug. 31, the health department said. Health officials have urged those who are eligible to get boosted, as data shows it offers increased protection against the omicron coronavirus variant.

Across the state, virtually all new COVID-19 cases were attributed to the omicron variant’s “lineages” in the two weeks leading up to Aug. 20, the latest time period for which data is available.

COVID blamed in part for NC’s drop in life expectancy

North Carolina had its largest-ever decline in average life expectancy from 2019 to 2020, new data shows.

The 1.5-year drop means that life expectancy in the state was 76. That 2020 figure was lower than the national average of 77 and indicated a disproportionate impact on Black residents, The News & Observer reported on Sept. 1.

“While white residents lost about 1.2 years, their Black counterparts lost about 2.3 years,” the N&O reported.

Scott Lynch of the Duke Population Research Institute said the primary reason for the drop is COVID-19. Drug overdoses may have also played a role.

Charlotte area at high COVID exposure level

Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, is at a high exposure level for COVID-19, meaning people there are advised to wear face masks inside public buildings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the county was at that level after considering data about hospitals and coronavirus case counts, The Charlotte Observer reported on Aug. 30.

For the week ending on Aug. 20, Mecklenburg had 2,191 new coronavirus cases. That’s a drop from 2,788 the week before, data shows.

In addition to the mask-wearing recommendation, health officials encourage people living in areas marked as high risk to get the COVID-19 vaccines that they’re eligible for and take COVID-19 tests if they feel sick.

But the tips come as the federal government is set to end its free COVID-19 test kit program, the Observer reported. Across the nation, the deadline to order the latest round of at-home tests is Sept. 2.

NC districts aren’t requiring face masks as school year starts

None of the school districts in North Carolina are requiring face coverings as students return to K-12 campuses.

That’s a change from the previous two school years, when mask wearing was mandated in many places to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

While school systems have dropped mask rules, some will recommend them, The News & Observer reported on Aug. 26.

As children go back to classrooms, other coronavirus-related measures are also being scaled back.

Instead of testing for COVID-19 at schools, some parents are being offered kits to use at home. Also, guidelines will allow for kids to skip a quarantine period after they have been exposed, the N&O reported.

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