RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A big jump in the number of North Carolina counties with the highest level of COVID-19 in the community.

The latest update of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID community level map Thursday night showed 18 counties colored orange with the highest level of spread.

There were just four counties in the CDC’s orange zone last week. This was the first weekly increase in a month.

(Photo credit: CDC)

There were eight counties in central North Carolina shaded orange, including Durham County — which has been at that level for seven weeks in a row.

Among the others; Orange, Chatham, Harnett, Granville, Person, Vance and Warren.

More than half the state’s counties — 53 in all — were colored yellow with medium levels of COVID spread, including Wake County and every other county in central North Carolina.

Just 29 were green with the lowest level of spread.

The CDC recommends everyone in the orange counties wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, including K-12 schools and other community settings.

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.

Every county in the orange zone had a case rate in excess of 200 and more than 10 people admitted into hospitals because of COVID during the previous week.