RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina has more than 15 times as many counties facing the highest level of COVID-19 in their communities now than it did a month ago.

A total of 61 of the state’s counties were colored orange with the worst level of spread Thursday night when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their map.

(Photo credit: CDC)

Every county in the CBS 17 viewing area was orange except for four: Wake, Franklin, Johnston and Wilson. All four were yellow, with medium levels of the virus.

The surge being driven by the BA.5 omicron variant has led to massive jumps in the number of orange counties on the CDC map.

During the final week in June, there were just four. That number climbed to 18 during the first week of July, then grew into the 40s on July 14 and 50 last week.

The CDC advises people in orange counties to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, including in K-12 schools and other community settings.

Another 36 counties were colored yellow, meaning all but four counties were at the two top levels.

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.

In eight counties — including Wayne, Sampson and Halifax — that case rate was in excess of 500. And even those are likely undercounts because of the prevalence of at-home tests that are not reported to public health officials.

Another six counties had nearly 30 COVID hospital admissions per capita.

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.