RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — COVID-19 cases in North Carolina are climbing once again, even as the number of people in hospitals dipped near a two-year low.

The first set of weekly numbers from the state Department of Health and Human Services was released on Wednesday and covers only the final three days of last week.

They showed an increase in the average daily case count but continued declines in the number of patients in hospitals. State public health officials two weeks ago said they would shift from updating all the state’s dashboards on weekdays and update them only on Wednesdays.

The new update includes seven key metrics that the state began focusing on a month ago. Those measures showed increases in the amount of COVID-19 particles found in wastewater and new cases, a drop in hospital admissions and roughly the same rate of emergency room visits for COVID-like symptoms.

North Carolina averaged 546 new cases per day during the week that ended on Saturday, when the most recent numbers were collected. The average for the previous week was 344 — an increase of nearly 60 percent.

While that percentage change is high, the raw number remains much lower than it was at the peak of the omicron surge.

The state averaged nearly 28,000 new cases per day for the week that ended on Jan. 14. But the patient count in hospitals dropped to the second-lowest total of the pandemic.

There were 347 patients hospitalized as of Saturday. The only other day with fewer was on April 12, 2020, when there were 343. That came less than a week after NCDHHS started counting them.

The agency also reported 77 more deaths in the past week, bringing the total to 23,334.