North Carolina flagged as ‘red zone’ for COVID-19, the Triangle hit the worst

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – An unpublished report meant for the White House Coronavirus Task Force listed North Carolina as a red zone for both its surge in COVID-19 cases and its positive test rates. The information came from a report published by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit newsroom based in Washington, D.C.

North Carolina was determined to be in the red due to its performance of 107 new cases per 100,00 population and its positive test rates of 9.9 percent.

Counties in trouble

While the state was in red overall, counties with troubling numbers were also narrowed down.

The report described a red zone as an area that reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population and tests positivity rates above 10 percent, in the last week.

The report shows there are 25 counties flagged as red zones for their performance in the last week. The top 12 are:

  1. Mecklenburg
  2. Gaston
  3. Johnston
  4. Union
  5. New hanover
  6. Cabarrus
  7. Catawaba
  8. Robeson
  9. Davidson
  10. Rowan
  11. Randolph
  12. Duplin

Yellow zones are described as areas where new cases were 10 to 100 per 100,000 population and tests positive were between five percent and 10 percent. If an area falls into just one of those conditions plus a condition of a red zone, that county is considered a yellow zone.

Fifty-seven counties are currently listed in the yellow zone for their performance in the last week. The top 12 are:

  1. Wake
  2. Durham
  3. Guilford
  4. Forsyth
  5. Cumberland
  6. Iredell
  7. Alamance
  8. Brunswick
  9. Orange
  10. Wayne
  11. Pitt
  12. Buncombe

According to the report, Mecklenburg County, Wake County and Durham County saw the highest number of new cases in the last three weeks. They represented about 34 percent of new cases in North Carolina.

Source: White House report


The report provides a list of recommendations for the state to consider to aid in the COVID-19 fight. Some are on par with what North Carolina is already doing. Others like testing nursing home or long-term care facility staff are unfulfilled at this time.

  • Engage in efforts to reduce transmission in the LatinX community
  • Promote social distancing and require face coverings
  • Test all nursing home/long-term care facility staff
  • Investigate outbreaks, implement testing and contact tracing
  • Implement community-led testing in high transmission counties
  • Keep bars closed, restrict restaurant capacities to 25 percent in counties with 10 percent positivity rates
  • Mandate face coverings in five percent positive counties
  • Limit public gatherings to 10 people
  • Investigate, work aggressively to control meatpacking plants
  • Increased messaging for preexisting medical conditions
  • Track cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations

Other states in the red

Bordering states Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee were among the 18 states listed as red zones for cases. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah were also flagged as red for their cases.

North Carolina’s neighbors to the south, Georgia and South Carolina, were part of the 11 states flagged red zones for their positivity rates. The others included Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Texas and Washington.

Click here to see the report in full. North Carolina’s information can be viewed on page 190.

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