RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The number of North Carolina counties in the CDC’s orange zone with the highest community level of COVID-19 has more than doubled in a week.

The map updated Thursday night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed 41 counties colored orange — more than 10 times as many as there were just two weeks ago.

(Photo credit: CDC)

There were just four orange counties on June 30. The jump to 18 last week was the first weekly increase in more than a month.

Another 40 counties were yellow with a medium level of COVID spread, meaning more than four of five counties in the state were at one of the highest two levels. That includes every county in central North Carolina.

Nearly 85 percent of the state’s population of 10.4 million people lives in a county that’s either orange or yellow, with 28 percent of them living in orange counties.

Among the counties in the area colored orange: Durham, Granville, Harnett, Northampton, Edgecombe, Halifax, Hoke, Lee, Nash, Person, Orange, Vance, Chatham and Moore, along with Mecklenburg County in Virginia.

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.

There were 17 counties where that case rate is 300 or higher — led by Graham County, where it was at nearly 557 for every 100,000 residents.


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.