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WEB EXCLUSIVE In a press conference held Tuesday, November 17, Governor Roy Cooper announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System and cases-by-county map in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus throughout the state. Cooper said that while the entire state is experiencing high levels of community transmission, the virus is impacting several counties particularly hard.
The County Alert System uses metrics provided by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s own key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers: significant community spread (yellow), substantial community spread (orange) and critical community spread (red). Metrics used to categorize counties include case rate (number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people), percent of tests that are positive over 14 days, and hospital impact (percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-19 related visits to the ER and staffed, open hospital beds).
In order for a county to move from yellow to orange or red they must meet the following case rate, percentage of positive cases and hospital impacts outlined by NC DHHS secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen in Tuesday’s press conference.
Once a county moves into orange or red zones the state will provide additional actions individuals, businesses, community organizations and public officials can take to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “North Carolina’s numbers are increasing, not surging,” said Cooper. “If businesses and leaders in orange and red counties work with us to bring down numbers, we can help our hospital system and decrease case numbers.”
Currently, 10 counties are red, 43 are orange and the remaining counties are yellow. Dr. Cohen says that the Triad region (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point) is experiencing a particularly rapid increase in hospitalizations. However, she remains confident that North Carolinians will be able to work together to avoid the threatening situations other states are experiencing.
“More and more states are tightening restrictions,” Cohen said during Tuesday’s press conference. “We hope to avoid such action. By pinpointing counties and asking them to do more to protect their communities, we can succeed in saving lives and easing the strain on hospitals.”
Read more about North Carolina’s County Alert System and find ways in which you can help slow the spread in your community at files.nc.gov/covid/documents/dashboard/COVID-19-County-Alert-System-Report.pdf.
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