Coronavirus updates for May 18: Here’s what to know in North Carolina this week

·3 min read
Darin Oswald/

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

23,000 new COVID cases added

At least 23,027 new coronavirus cases were reported in North Carolina last week, up from 17,488 the week before, according to preliminary data from state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services also reported 524 new weekly hospital patient admissions, an increase from 431 the week before, according to data through May 14, the most recent metrics available.

The figures were released Wednesday, May 18, the ninth week that health officials have adjusted information shared on their coronavirus dashboard and published 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 72% are fully vaccinated. Of the state’s total population, about 62% are fully vaccinated and about 66% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.

More than 3.5 million ”additional/booster” doses have been administered in North Carolina as of May 18, 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 and its related “lineages” in the two weeks leading up to May 7, the latest time period for which data is available.

DMV reinstating some Saturday hours after COVID hiatus

Some driver’s license offices in North Carolina will have weekend hours after a coronavirus-related pause.

The 16 N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles offices that previously served customers on Saturday mornings will do so again this weekend, The News & Observer reported May 16.

The state had halted Saturday hours at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and later started another suspension when the delta coronavirus variant led to a spike in cases in September 2021.

The weekend hours — which are expected to last through Aug. 27 — will run 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

NC expert weighs in on at-home tests

At-home COVID-19 tests are a convenient tool, but some people have reported testing negative while still having symptoms.

Dr. Melissa Miller of the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine said the type of test and how much of the virus is in your body could play a role.

“Depending on when you take a test, if you have COVID symptoms and receive negative results from an at-home, rapid test, the level of virus in your body could be too low to be detected by the test, at least at first,” The News & Observer reported May 12.

If you feel sick but test negative for COVID-19, Miller recommends wearing a face covering near other people, following up with at-home and PCR tests, and isolating if you were exposed to someone who tested positive.

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