COVID-19 alert system shows progress with 61 fewer NC counties in ‘red zone’

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updated the COVID-19 County Alert System Monday, which currently shows 27 red counties. That is a decrease from 61 red counties on the previous Feb. 4 County Alert System, and the fewest red counties in the state since the start of the County Alert System.

“With North Carolinians continuing to follow the 3Ws and more than one million people in the state having received at least a first dose of vaccine, we are slowing the spread and saving lives,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “Let’s keep it up.”

The update also lists 40 orange counties and 33 yellow counties. On the Feb. 4 update, there were 33 orange counties and 6 yellow counties.

Although North Carolina’s key metrics remain high, they are moving in a positive direction with decreasing trends in numbers of COVID-19 cases reported each day, people being hospitalized with COVID-19, people in the intensive care unit and the percent of tests that are positive.

North Carolina health officials said they have “embedded equity in all aspects of vaccine operations, including how the vaccine is allocated in the state.”

[Race to Vaccinate: What to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in North Carolina]

Vaccines are being distributed to all 100 counties with increases to counties with higher numbers of historically marginalized populations that are 65 and older.

The state also sets aside a portion of its allocation to support events that increase access in underserved communities and engage historically marginalized populations.

The week ending on Feb. 14, 23% of first doses administered in the state have gone to the Black/African American population, which is up from 13% the week of Jan.18.

With vaccine supplies limited, there are critical actions North Carolinians can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19.


North Carolinians should continue to limit public interactions to essential activities and avoid gathering with others from outside their household. And continued adherence to the 3Ws – wearing a face mask, waiting six feet apart and washing hands often – along with the start of vaccinations are slowing the spread of the virus, health officials said.

The COVID-19 County Alert System uses COVID-19 case rates, the percent of tests that are positive and hospital impact within the county to categorize counties into the following tiers:

  • Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  • Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  • Red: Critical Community Spread