RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Fewer counties in central North Carolina are in the CDC’s orange zone with the highest level of COVID-19 spread in their communities.

For the third week in a row, more than 60 of the state’s 100 counties were classified as having the highest community COVID levels by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency updated its data behind the map Thursday afternoon without actually releasing the new map. CBS 17 News used that data to create a reproduction of the map.

This map was created by CBS 17 News using the data from the CDC that goes into its weekly COVID-19 community levels map. (Photo credit: CBS 17)

And while the vast majority of counties in the central part of the state remained orange, two — Chatham and Moore counties — were downgraded to yellow with medium community levels of COVID. 

They joined four counties that have spent weeks in the yellow zone without bumping up to orange: Wake, Franklin, Johnston and Wilson counties.

Every other county in the CBS 17 viewing area was in the orange zone.

At the state level, 62 counties were orange and 31 were yellow, leaving seven that were green with the lowest level of the virus in the communities.

A total of 12 counties improved in their color designation, either moving from orange to yellow or from yellow to green. Nine others were downgraded.

There were 61 counties in the orange zone last week. That total peaked at 67 a week earlier.

Those orange counties account for 63 percent of the state’s population of 10.4 million.

Those color designations are significant: The CDC advises people in orange counties to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

A county moves into the orange, high-level zone if it has more than 200 new cases per week for every 100,000 people who live there, and has either more than ten COVID-19 hospital admissions that week for every 100,000 people or if 10 percent or more of the people in hospitals have COVID-19.

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