NC has second largest one-day increase in coronavirus cases – total now tops 5,800

North Carolina’s total coronavirus cases shot up by nearly 400 Friday, an increase close to the largest single-day jump since the pandemic’s arrival in early March.

NC DHHS reported 5,859 confirmed cases statewide, up 394 from Thursday’s total, the state’s second largest one-day increase. Of those infected people, 429 are hospitalized, a slight decrease from Thursday’s 452 patients. The largest one-day surge was 404 cases on April 11.

In the roughly six weeks since the outbreak’s beginning, 152 people have died across the state. That total rose by 21 Friday. So far, the coronavirus has struck 93 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

The virus has not yet reached its peak in North Carolina, according to reports from UNC and Rex hospitals. The frequently cited University of Washington model estimated the heaviest level of outbreak would come this week, but cases are still rolling in by triple digits a day statewide and experts believe the crest could come as late as mid-May.

But medical staff believe they have enough beds, equipment and staff to handle coronavirus at its highest caseload, according to Janet Hadar, president of UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-home order remains in effect with new restrictions on crowd size inside stores now in their fifth day.

“No one wants to get the economy going more than I do,” Cooper said in a tweet. “But I want to make sure we save lives. I want to make sure that hospitals are not overwhelmed with people who are sick coming into them, and I want to be able to make sure that people are safe.”

Meanwhile, the state Division of Employment Security reported more than 630,000 people have filed for unemployment insurance benefits in the last month. By the end of next week, the division plans to triple its staff to 1,600 people processing those claims, which many have found difficult to file.

“This will be the largest number of people working to provide unemployment benefits in North Carolina’s history,” said Lockhart Taylor, assistant secretary. “We are prepared to take whatever steps we need to take to deliver the help North Carolinians need during these difficult times.”

The News & Observer is keeping a separate tally that includes reports from county health departments, a total that is typically higher as DHHS updates its numbers once a day. That count stood at 5,968 cases Friday with 166 fatalities.