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States across the country are setting records for new COVID-19 cases ahead of the new year. 

As the omicron and delta variants continue to spread, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported its highest one-day number of cases.

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The state reported 18,571 positive tests for COVID-19 – a number 60% higher than the previous record of 11,581 set in January.

The number of residents of the southeastern state visiting the emergency room for COVID-19-like illness also set a record at 4,171 and the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly doubled since the beginning of the month. 

“We are concerned that even a very small proportion of these cases ending up in the hospital could overwhelm our hospital system and increase the loss of lives of those most vulnerable,” incoming NCDHHS Sec. Kody H. Kinsley said in a news release. “Everyone can help save lives and protect hospital capacity by getting vaccinated if you haven’t already and getting boosted if you are eligible.” 

Youngstown City Heath Department worker Kathy Johnson talks with drivers before giving them at-home COVID-19 test kits during a distribution event, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio. 

Youngstown City Heath Department worker Kathy Johnson talks with drivers before giving them at-home COVID-19 test kits during a distribution event, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, in Youngstown, Ohio.  (AP Photo/David Dermer)

In neighboring South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control reported a record-high number of nearly 9,000 COVID-19 cases in one day on Friday.

“I think January’s going to be a very difficult month for South Carolina,” Department Director Dr. Edward Simmer told reporters.

A third of the state’s hospitals reported critical staffing shortages to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday.

In the Midwest, the number of Ohioans in the hospital with COVID-19 also hit a pandemic record high on Thursday, for the second day running.

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State data shows 5,466 people in the hospital with COVID-19, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. 

The Ohio Department of Health reported nearly 20,000 new cases on Thursday – a number just below the record set Wednesday.

In the South, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday that his state is setting records for new COVID-19 diagnoses and Thursday’s 24-hour total of 12,467 new cases was more than a third above Wednesday’s 9,378.

According to the governor, the number of people hospitalized with the virus has risen 268% since Dec. 17.

Farther West, Hawaii set an all-time record for new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as the state reported nearly 3,500 new infections. 

The daily total of new cases reported by health officials was 3,484, topping the record of 2,205 cases set the day after Christmas.

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A previous record for new daily infections there was set in August during the peak of the delta variant surge.

New COVID-19 cases have soared to their highest level on record in the U.S., reaching more than 265,000 per day on average, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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