Cooper launches COVID alert system

Cooper+launches+COVID+alert+system

Web Desk

North Carolina’s COVID rates held steady at 8 percent statewide, according to the most recent data.

Gov. Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen announced a three-tier COVID county alert system on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The map provides a visual indicator of where all of North Carolina’s 100 counties fall on COVID rates. Guilford County is yellow.

“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. “It can help bring down their case rates, keep their communities safer, save lives and keep their hospital systems working.”

“It’s going to take all of us working together to avoid tightening restrictions like so many states are now doing,” Cohen said. “The COVID-19 County Alert System gives North Carolinians an easy way to see how their county is doing and know what they can do protect their family and neighbors and slow the spread of this 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 (as noted in the map):

Yellow: Significant Community Spread

Orange: Substantial Community Spread

Red: Critical Community Spread

Because no one metric provides a complete picture, 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 yellow tier (significant community spread) and should continue to be vigilant to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

One thing to note, the majority of orange and red counties did vote red in the Nov. 3 election, which may tie into the community spread by lack of mask wearing.  Cohen and Cooper, as well as national health officials, have urged that people wear masks as a way of protection. To see interactive versions of both maps, visit https://public.flourish.studio/story/644173/