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COVID metrics worsen in NC; Gov. Cooper extends curfew 3 more weeks

That curfew has people stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. It was first issued on Dec. 8, and was originally set to last until Jan. 8.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Wednesday at 2 p.m., North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper gave 2021's first update on the spread of coronavirus in the state.

He said he would extend the state's COVID-19 curfew for three more weeks.

That modified stay-at-home order has people stay home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. It was first issued on Dec. 8, and was originally set to last until Jan. 8.

He said he's keeping in place the statewide mask mandate, closure of indoor bars and capacity limits on personal gatherings and retail spaces.

RELATED: New restrictions for North Carolina: Gov. Cooper announces modified stay-at-home order

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state's health department, said the new year had brought the highest rates of COVID-like syndromic cases and hospitalizations.

The trajectory of coronavirus tests coming back positive was also increasing.

The emergency response team said in North Carolina, 96 counties were in the "red" or "orange" levels of viral spread. Eighty-four counties were in the "red" zone, up from about 60 counties two weeks ago.

Cohen said if you've gathered with people you don't live with recently, based on the level of viral spread in the state, people should "assume you have been infected," and get a COVID-19 test.

"No matter where you live, work, worship or play, COVID-19 remains a deadly threat," Cooper said.

The team urged North Carolinians to stay home unless they needed to buy food, take care of loved ones, go to work or seek medical care. 

Cohen said she didn't want to lose any more North Carolinians to the virus, and stressed the importance of dedicating to mask use every time people leave their homes.

This update comes one day after Cooper mobilized the national guard to help dole out COVID-19 vaccines more quickly. He said about 50 guardsmen and women were involved in the activation.

By the latest update, on Monday, 109,799 people in North Carolina had gotten the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 461 people had gotten both doses.

Since March of 2020, there have been 582,348 cases of the novel coronavirus in the Tar Heel state, and 7,076 people have died from COVID-19 related complications.

Wednesday, the health department reported 6,952 newly detected COVID-19 cases. 

In state hospitals, 3,893 people were being treated for the virus today, and about 35% of the state's ventilators were in use.

North Carolina's health department website does not specify how many ventilators are being specifically used to support COVID-19 patients.