Life has pretty much returned back to normal since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that brought the state and the world to a standstill and forced people to wear masks.

Most North Carolinians don’t give the virus much thought anymore. However, state health officials with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) sent out a press release this week warning residents not to let their guard down.

“Increases in COVID-19 metrics have been seen in North Carolina and nationally during recent weeks, including in the early warning wastewater monitoring system,” the Wednesday, Aug. 9 press release warned. “North Carolina’s COVID-19 metrics had been trending down throughout 2023 to the lowest levels since the pandemic began.  Along with wastewater, increases have been seen in other COVID-19 metrics, including hospital admissions and emergency department visits, according to data on the North Carolina Respiratory Virus Dashboard.”

The release also stated that, while the public health “emergency” has ended, COVID-19 remains a threat.

NC Health Director and NCDHHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson stated in the press release, “Some people, including older people, people with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness with COVID-19.  Fortunately, we have the tools for people to protect themselves and each other, including access to vaccines, testing and treatment to help manage COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.”

State health officials note that Flu season is also on the way.

Flu infections usually peak between December and February in this state – however, the timing has become less predictable since the pandemic. In fall of last year, COVID-19, the flu and other respiratory diseases were “spreading widely at the same time” –  something that put stress on the state’s health care system and its hospital capacity.

NCDHHS encourages all North Carolinians to prepare for the fall respiratory virus season by taking the following actions:

  • Stay up-to-date with vaccines.
  • Have a ready supply of COVID-19 tests as well as a plan to get treatment if you test positive.
  • Visit Testing & Treatment/NC COVID-19 ( for information on how to obtain free at-home COVID-19 tests and how to access treatment.
  • Engage in basic protective practices – such as washing your hands, covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, cleaning surfaces frequently and staying home when you’re sick.
  • Consider wearing a mask in high-risk indoor settings of if you fall into a high risk category.