SPINDALE — Rutherford County has 27 new coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

The county’s current 14-day positivity rate is at 21.2%. At 5,302 cases, Rutherford eclipsed the 5,200 cumulative total threshold Wednesday as the U.S. braces for more COVID-19 fatalities and record-high hospitalizations stemming from recent holiday gatherings.

The US reported its highest number of coronavirus deaths in one day Tuesday: 4,327, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In fact, the five highest daily tallies for new infections and new deaths have all occurred in 2021.

Over the past week, the US has averaged more than 3,300 deaths every day, a jump of more than 217% from mid-November.

In North Carolina, at least 641,073 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus and 7,745 have died, according to state health officials.

At least 3,951 people in North Carolina were reported hospitalized with the coronavirus as of Wednesday. That’s the second-highest hospitalization total reported during the pandemic, trailing behind the record of 3,964 coronavirus patients on Jan. 7.

Rutherford County health officials are urging currently eligible residents to make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the health department. It is currently scheduling more than 2,500 appointments for those in Phase 1A and 1B.

Those without an appointment are asked not to visit the health department. Drive up and walk up requests will not be allowed due to the limited number of vaccines available each day. If you are eligible for the vaccine, please fill out the online form or call 828-223-5735.