Cooper: Vaccination is ‘strongest protection’ to fight COVID as omicron drives record case numbers

By Hank Lee, WCNC-TV

With COVID-19 case numbers hitting new records and hospitalizations on the rise, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state health leaders urged everyone to get vaccinated and boosted, if eligible, as soon as possible.

State health officials reported a new single-day record for infections on New Year’s Day. On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) announced 12,989 new cases. This came after a new single-day record was reported for Jan. 1, with nearly 20,000 infections being reported. Tuesday’s report saw 10,276 new cases with 3,008 people hospitalized statewide. Nearly 30% of tests came back positive.

“I know many of you are weary and frustrated,” Cooper said. “I know it was difficult for people who wanted to do the right thing over the holidays and to make difficult decisions with family and friends.”

Cooper said he understands it’s scary to see so many people testing positive for the virus but explained that the omicron variant appears to be less severe for people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.

“We have the benefit of so much more information, science and data than we did at the start of the pandemic,” Cooper said. “Getting more people vaccinated and boosted is the key. I and my family have, and that’s the strongest protection we have to fight this virus and live normal lives.”

“This virus and its variants are going to be with us a while, but we’re getting better and better at dealing and living with it, so we’ll keep doing that,” Cooper said.

More than 87% of people in North Carolina ICUs are unvaccinated, according to NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley.

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This story is part of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative’s special coronavirus coverage – reporting on and engaging the community around the problems and solutions as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems.