North Carolina has implemented the COVID-19 County Alert System to identify counties with the highest levels of viral spread

From our news services

RALEIGH–The state today unveiled a new tool, the COVID-19 County Alert System, to pinpoint counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offer specific recommendations to bring numbers down.

Gov. Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, at a 3 p.m. press conference said this system will help give local leaders another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow viral spread. The map will be updated every four weeks.

“By pinpointing counties with high virus transmission and asking everyone in those counties to work with us and do more right now to slow the spread of the virus, we can succeed,” Cooper said. “Every county has widespread virus.”

The system uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:
Yellow: Significant Community Spread
Orange: Substantial Community Spread
Red: Critical Community Spread

All counties throughout the state have a color and Hyde County is colored yellow.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Hyde has logged a total of 182 cases, two of which are active cases. A check with the zip code tracker notes that six of the total cases have an Ocracoke zip code.

Cohen noted that some hospitals, particularly in the triad area, are seeing a strain of COVID patients.

She stressed that if all continue to work together to stop the spread, it will avoid the state having to tighten restrictions, “like so many states are now doing.”

On Nov. 13, North Carolina’s indoor mass gathering limit was lowered back down to 10 people and will be in place through Friday, Dec. 4. The order did not change any other restrictions.

Cohen particularly stressed vigilance for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Keep gatherings small; wear masks; stay outside; and get a test before gathering,” she said.

The COVID-19 County Alert System uses a combination of three metrics: case rate, the percent of tests that are positive, and hospital impact within the county.

To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier AND the threshold for either percent positive OR hospital impact.

•   Case Rate: The number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people

•   Percent Positive: The percent of tests that are positive over 14 days

•   Hospital Impact: A composite score based on the impact that COVID-19 has had on hospitals including percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-19 related visits to the Emergency Department, staffed open hospital beds, and critical staffing shortages over 14 days.

Counties that do not meet criteria for red or orange are categorized as being in the yellow tier (significant community spread) and should continue to be vigilant to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

The Alert System includes recommendations for individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials in every county, as well as specific stepped-up recommendations for orange and red counties. To view the entire PDF, click here.

For the NC Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 website, click here.

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