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New statewide COVID-19 county alert system announced for North Carolina

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FILE - The North Carolina state flag (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

As COVID-19 trends continue concerning public health leaders across the state, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has started a statewide alert system.

On Tuesday, Nov. 17, Governor Roy Cooper, along with NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and other public health officials, announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System which shows how each of the state's 100 counties is doing in terms of viral spread.

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“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,” Governor Cooper said during Tuesday's press conference. “It can help bring down their case rates, keep their communities safer, save lives and keep their hospital systems working.”A

According to NCDHHS, the map will be updated every four weeks and will offer specific recommendations on how slow the spread of COVID-19 and bring numbers down.

“It’s going to take all of us working together to avoid tightening restrictions like so many states are now doing,” said Dr. Cohen during Tuesday's press conference. “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:

  • Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  • Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  • Red: Critical Community Spread

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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, NCDHHS says 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

Click here for more details and data from the latest COVID-19 County Alert System.

For more information on COVID-19 around North Carolina, visit the state health department's dashboard here.


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