North Carolina sees increase in COVID-19 cases with hospital visits on the rise again. New telemedicine treatment aims to increase access.

New COVID-19 cases are climbing again in North Carolina in a sign that Thanksgiving-related spread continues.  WNCN reports new cases were up 13 percent last week to nearly 13,000 — the highest weekly total since late September — according to an update Wednesday from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

That is leading to an increase in hospital admissions, up 8 percent in the week of December 3-10.  Also noted is an increase in COVID particles in wastewater and more emergency room visits with symptoms of the disease.  (SOURCE)

The increase in hospital admissions is leading to headaches in triangle-area hospitals.  They are facing major bed space concerns along with concerns over staffing.  Celeste Garcia of North Carolina Public Radio says Duke University Hospital and UNC Medical Center are re-purposing certain beds to make more space for patients.  At Duke University Hospital, patients and staff are again required to wear masks, wash their hands often and stay home from work if they feel any symptoms  (SOURCE)

As a result, North Carolina has launched a new telemedicine program designed to increase access to treatment for COVID-19.

WFDD Radio says the program is the result of a partnership between the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and StarMed Healthcare. It supports free telemedicine appointments to gauge COVID-19 treatment eligibility for people who have tested positive via an at-home test or other methods. Health officials say that early treatment following a positive test is key to avoiding serious illness, hospitalization, or post-COVID conditions known as long COVID.  (SOURCE)