Fact Check: Is the CDC’s New COVID Map Already Outdated?

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RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — The CDC’s new COVID-19 map has only been out for less than a week, and it may already be out of date.

The community levels map released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures COVID risk in a different way, taking into account the overcrowding of area hospitals with COVID patients.

The CDC’s community-level map for North Carolina, which was last updated Feb. 24 and may already be out of date. (Source: CDC)

Unlike the much-maligned transmission map — in which 95 of North Carolina‘s counties are still stuck in the red zone with the highest levels of spread — the new map doesn’t show any of our counties in the red zone.

Because there is no red zone.

The CDC’s community transmission map for North Carolina showed 95 of the state’s counties were still in the red zone with the highest level of transmission Wednesday afternoon. (Source: CDC)

Instead, it uses three colors — orange, yellow and green — to rate the threat level for each county in the state and county, with orange marking the highest level and green the lowest.

Key norms are less than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the previous week, the per capita rate of COVID hospital admissions, and the percentage of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients.

The CDC says people can safely take a break from wearing masks in yellow or green counties.

When it released the map last Friday, the CDC said more than 70% of the US population lives in counties where COVID poses a low or medium threat to hospitals.

But closer examination showed that in North Carolina, the opposite is true.

Nearly three-quarters of counties in the state — 73 of them — were colored orange with high COVID community levels.

And only 33% of the state’s 10.4 million people live in one of those other 27 counties. Of North Carolina’s six largest counties, the only one that isn’t orange is Mecklenburg.

And yet, mask rules are falling statewide.

Orange County is one of those counties colored orange on the new CDC map. But officials there said Wednesday that their case rate and hospital occupancy rates had dropped low enough on the CDC scale that starting Monday, masks are optional indoors.

County leaders measured their case rate at 150 new cases per 100,000 people and said COVID patients occupied 13% of their hospital beds. Both numbers meet the standards set by the CDC.

Figures from the state Department of Health and Human Services show that many more counties (94) are meeting that case rate standard than the CDC (27).

In fact, for every county in the state, the case rate determined by NCDHHS is lower than the former CDC. And in 81 of them, the difference between them is 100 cases per capita or more – further evidence of how quickly these numbers are falling, and how quickly a card can become obsolete, as the surge of ‘omicron steps back.

So which card should you pay attention to?

Dr Lisa Pickett, chief medical officer at Duke University Hospital, said officials there are “putting a lot of pieces together”.

“We’re following CDC advice, and then we look to our local leaders who are looking at mask mandates and things like that to come up with a plan for how we’ll take care of our patients and their loved ones,” he said. she declared. .


CBS 17 Joedy McCreary has been tracking COVID-19 numbers since March 2020, compiling data from federal, state and local sources to provide a clear snapshot of what the current coronavirus situation looks like and what it could look like in the future .


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