How Did Durham County Go From Green To Orange In Just 2 Weeks On The CDC Community Levels Map?

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — How has Durham County moved from the lowest COVID-19 levels in the community to the highest in just two weeks?

This quick change happened because two numbers became too big.

In the latest map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Durham County was shaded orange with high community levels of COVID – the first time in two months that one of the state’s counties was not green (with low community levels) or yellow (medium) colored. .

“Right now the data is telling us there’s a lot more transmission of COVID 19 and a lot more COVID-19 than there was a week or two ago,” said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The CDC recommends that everyone in Orange Counties wear masks indoors, regardless of immunization status, including K-12 schools and other community facilities.

Durham County Health Director Rod Jenkins said in a statement the county is not recommending a mask mandate, but “we will continue to monitor the data and if we see sustained periods of high case growth, we will work with our city and county leadership to address.” to recommend a new mandate if necessary.”

In just two weeks, there was a dramatic color shift on the map.

A total of 98 counties were green on the map released May 12, with two – Wake and Hyde – yellow.

As of last week, the number of yellow counties grew to 10, including eight in central North Carolina: Alamance, Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Harnett, Lee, Orange and Wake.

And the current map has 15 yellow counties — including four neighboring ones along the Virginia border — along with orange Durham.

But why the change?

It has to do with three per capita rates working together — cases and two hospital counts — for every 100,000 people living in that county.

Image: CDC.

The first benchmark is the number of new cases in the previous week. If it’s below 200, your county has a little more leeway with its two hospital measures — the rate of COVID admissions and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.

“When we see the official case numbers rising and being high, that’s even an underestimate of the true burden,” Wohl said, noting the abundance of at-home testing that rarely counts in those official totals.

But if that fall rate is 200 or more, it’s impossible for your county to be green. In this case, you’re yellow if you have fewer than 10 hospitalized COVID patients and have COVID patients in fewer than 10 percent of hospital beds.

That’s what happened in Durham County, where the case rate per 100,000 people was 217 and 10.3 COVID patients per capita were hospitalized.

“Hospitalization is really crucial because you don’t fake that,” Wohl said.

Why Is Wake County Stuck In The Yellow Zone?

The case rate is well above that magic number of 200 — most recently, the county had nearly 330 cases per 100,000 people — but its hospital measures were low enough to keep it out of the orange zone.

According to the CDC, Wake County had just 6.6 hospitalizations per capita in the past week and just 4.2 percent of its hospital beds were occupied by COVID patients. How Did Durham County Go From Green To Orange In Just 2 Weeks On The CDC Community Levels Map?


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