It might be 2021 now, with a New Year bringing optimism and positive thinking to many – but apparently no one let the COVID-19 virus in on that.

On Tuesday, Jan. 5, the state released the latest coronavirus stats and – as one might suspect after the holiday period of family and friend get togethers – those numbers aren’t good at all.

Deaths associated with the virus in North Carolina were set to cross the 7,000 mark and almost certainly have done so by the time you’re reading this. As of Tuesday afternoon, the state had recorded 6,996 deaths in the state from the virus. As of that same time, there were 3,781 people in the hospital due to the virus and 5,285 newly recorded cases in North Carolina on Tuesday.

That brings the state to well over half a million recorded cases – 575,396 to be exact.

The daily percentage of positive cases found in virus tests has been well over what health officials would like to see in order to keep the pandemic manageable. The current number is 16.2 percent. (Guilford County health officials have a continuingly elusive goal of keeping that number below 5 percent.)

There is a little good news. The tests for the virus have been widely available for some time and now 7,150,588 tests have been given to people across the state.

In some other welcome news, on January 5, Guilford County announced that vaccinations would be available next week for county residents who were 75 or older.

According to the state’s data, new records for COVID-19 cases were set on the first two days of 2021, making the New Year look an awful lot like the year that just closed out.

On Friday, Jan. 1 North Carolina reported its highest one-day number of cases with 9,527 new cases, which exceeded – by more than 1,000 – the state’s previous highest day set on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020.

Cases remained high on Saturday Jan. 2, with 9,365 new cases reported.