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Record number of COVID-19 high risk counties in the United States


For the second straight week, a majority of counties in the United States are labeled with a high level of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New data from the CDC shows that over 80 percent of counties are at a medium or high risk impact.The United States is seeing more counties under a high risk of COVID-19 than it has seen since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking COVID-19 community levels in February. As of Thursday, the CDC reported the following:18.71% of counties are labeled as having a low COVID-19 community level, which is down by 1.71% from the previous week.35.46% of counties are labeled as having a medium COVID-19 community level, which is down by 2.14% from the previous week.45.83% of counties are labeled as having a high COVID-19 community level, which is up by 3.85% from the previous week. This comes as the country grips with the subvariant of omicron, BA.5, spreading rapidly across the nation. A map below using data from the CDC shows what the level of COVID-19 is like in areas across the country. What are the CDC’s COVID-19 community levels?The CDC defines COVID-19 community levels as a measure of the impact of COVID-19 on your health and the health care systems in your neighborhood.”With current high levels of vaccination and high levels of population immunity from both vaccination and infections, the risk of medically significant disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 is greatly reduced for most people,” the CDC said on its website. “COVID-19 Community Levels can help communities and individuals make decisions based on their local context and their unique needs.”The agency is still tracking the number of cases in a community, but the community level indicator places a bigger focus on the number of hospitalizations. New hospital admissions of people with COVID-19 per capita and the percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients are key indicators.”Health officials and individuals should consider current information about COVID-19 hospitalizations in the community, as well as the potential for strain on the local health system and COVID-19 cases in the community when making decisions about community prevention strategies and individual behaviors,” according to the CDC’s website. With the CDC tracking community levels instead of community transmission, mask recommendations are connected to the level of COVID-19 risk in your area.If you live in an area that is measured at a low-risk level, the CDC says mask-wearing is up to you and whether you’d like to wear a mask as a personal choice.If you live in an area that is measured at a medium-risk level, the CDC says people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should wear masks indoors when in public. People who live with or have social contact with immunocompromised individuals should also wear a mask when indoors with them.People living in an area that is at a high-risk level are recommended to wear a mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk.What should I do if I live in a high-risk level area?You looked at the map above, searched for your neighborhood, and found out you live in a high-risk area. Now what?The CDC recommends you wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. Those who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public and have a plan for rapid testing if needed. You should talk to your health care provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP and monoclonal antibodies.In addition, the CDC says to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.

For the second straight week, a majority of counties in the United States are labeled with a high level of COVID-19 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New data from the CDC shows that over 80 percent of counties are at a medium or high risk impact.

The United States is seeing more counties under a high risk of COVID-19 than it has seen since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking COVID-19 community levels in February.

As of Thursday, the CDC reported the following:

  • 18.71% of counties are labeled as having a low COVID-19 community level, which is down by 1.71% from the previous week.
  • 35.46% of counties are labeled as having a medium COVID-19 community level, which is down by 2.14% from the previous week.
  • 45.83% of counties are labeled as having a high COVID-19 community level, which is up by 3.85% from the previous week.

This comes as the country grips with the subvariant of omicron, BA.5, spreading rapidly across the nation.

A map below using data from the CDC shows what the level of COVID-19 is like in areas across the country.

What are the CDC’s COVID-19 community levels?

The CDC defines COVID-19 community levels as a measure of the impact of COVID-19 on your health and the health care systems in your neighborhood.

“With current high levels of vaccination and high levels of population immunity from both vaccination and infections, the risk of medically significant disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 is greatly reduced for most people,” the CDC said on its website. “COVID-19 Community Levels can help communities and individuals make decisions based on their local context and their unique needs.”

The agency is still tracking the number of cases in a community, but the community level indicator places a bigger focus on the number of hospitalizations. New hospital admissions of people with COVID-19 per capita and the percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients are key indicators.

“Health officials and individuals should consider current information about COVID-19 hospitalizations in the community, as well as the potential for strain on the local health system and COVID-19 cases in the community when making decisions about community prevention strategies and individual behaviors,” according to the CDC’s website.

mask guidance based on covid-19 community level

With the CDC tracking community levels instead of community transmission, mask recommendations are connected to the level of COVID-19 risk in your area.

If you live in an area that is measured at a low-risk level, the CDC says mask-wearing is up to you and whether you’d like to wear a mask as a personal choice.

If you live in an area that is measured at a medium-risk level, the CDC says people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should wear masks indoors when in public. People who live with or have social contact with immunocompromised individuals should also wear a mask when indoors with them.

People living in an area that is at a high-risk level are recommended to wear a mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk.

What should I do if I live in a high-risk level area?

You looked at the map above, searched for your neighborhood, and found out you live in a high-risk area. Now what?

The CDC recommends you wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. Those who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease should consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public and have a plan for rapid testing if needed. You should talk to your health care provider about whether you are a candidate for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP and monoclonal antibodies.

In addition, the CDC says to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.



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