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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

State Introduces COVID-19 County Alert System

Introduction to article

Today, the state introduced a new tool to assist local leaders in determining the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help them to consider and implement actions to help slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A full video of the briefing is posted above, and slides from the briefing, as well as a portion of the County Alert System.

Gov. Roy Cooper said the new COVID-19 County Alert System is being implemented to identify North Carolina counties with the highest levels of community spread. 

The system will also offer specific recommendations for how working together can bring down numbers. 

Counties of concern will be designated as red, orange, or yellow using a combination of three specific metrics. 

The system will take into account three main factors: case rate, percent positive, and hospital impact. 

Case rate: Number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people 
Percent positive: Percent of tests that are positive over 14 days 
Hospital impact: Percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations; COVID-19 related visits to the Emergency Room. 

States will be either red, orange, or yellow: 

Red: Critical community thread 
Orange: Substantial community spread 
Yellow: Significant community spread 

Counties Near Macon County 
Metrics are based on data from November 1, 2020, to November 14, 2020. 

• Macon County Significant/Yellow 209.2 5.6% Low Impact 
 Clay County Significant/Yellow 213.7* 3.6% Low Impact 
 Cherokee County Substantial/Orange 255.1 9.5% Low Impact 
 Graham County Significant/Yellow 165.9* 2.1% Low Impact 
 Jackson County Substantial/Orange 366.4 8.3% Low Impact 
 Swain County Substantial/Orange 210.2* 12.1% Low Impact xxx

COVID-19 County Alert System CAS Map [PDF]

Slides from the briefing:
COVID-19 County Alert System Introduction North Carolina is experiencing high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 statewide, but the virus is impacting some counties particularly hard. The State has established a COVID-19 County Alert System to give individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow the spread of the virus. 

The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers: 

1. Yellow: Significant Community Spread 
2. Orange: Substantial Community Spread 
3. 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. County Metrics The COVID-19 County Alert System uses a combination of metrics to determine whether a county meets criteria to be in the red or orange tier. These metrics provide information about the amount of viral spread and hospital impact in the county. 

 How Tiers are Determined: 

 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 

Individual Actions 


• Wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance from people who do not live in your household 
• Download the SlowCOVIDNC app and share with friends and family; if you test positive, enter your pin into the app to notify close contacts to get tested 
• Get a flu shot 
• Get tested if symptomatic or if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 
• Answer the call and participate in contact tracing 
• Avoid large gatherings and crowds 
• If you must host or attend a gathering, limit attendance to 10 or fewer, host outdoors, and ventilate indoor spaces as much as possible (e.g., keep windows open) (resources: Guidance for Private Social Gatherings) 
• Avoid non-essential travel 


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Published at 5:00am Wednesday, October 14, 2020