North Carolina reported 2,532 new coronavirus cases on Thursday — the highest single-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

Data from North Carolina Health and Human Services revealed the increase, marking a new high as North Carolina has seen recent steep increases in positive COVID-19 cases. The department reports the state has experienced an increase in the seven-day rolling average for new coronavirus cases since the middle of September, with hospitalizations due to the virus also seeing increases.

As of October 15, health officials are reporting that 238,939 North Carolina residents have tested positive for the virus. Additionally, nearly 4,000 residents have died as a result of the virus. North Carolina health officials reported on Monday that 206,471 residents are presumed to have recovered from the virus.

Locally, Orange County is reporting 2,886 total cases among its residents with 57 deaths. Thursday’s tally represented a 31-case increase from the previous day. up from 2,855 cases the day before. Chatham County is reporting 1,838 cases and 60 deaths, which is 27 more new cases than on Wednesday.

North Carolina officially shifted into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening on October 2 — a move which opened businesses like bars and movie theaters and allowed for small crowd at outdoor sports and entertainment venues.

“I believe that North Carolina can do this safely,” said Governor Roy Cooper at the time. “But so I am clear, every gathering carries the risk of spreading this disease. Being safe means being smart and making sure others around you are doing the same.”

At a press briefing on Thursday, however, Cooper urged North Carolinians to do better.

“We want to begin to see our numbers go down,” he said, “and with colder weather and people moving indoors, there’s more chance for viral spread. This is why we are emphasizing these steps to slow the spread of the virus: being more careful [of] wearing masks.”

Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of NCDHHS, said these trends go against the larger outlook the state had just a few weeks ago.

“This is not where we want to be and frankly, it’s frustrating,” she said Thursday. “We have the tools to slow the spread and protect one another. The science is clear on masks: they work. They slow the spread if everyone is working together to wear them. I know that no one in North Carolina wants to see us move backward, so I’m asking all North Carolinians to wear a mask when you  are with people that you don’t live with.”

Phase 3 of reopening is initially slated to run through October 23. does not charge subscription fees. You can support local journalism and our mission to serve the community. Contribute today – every single dollar matters.