Wilkes was among counties with the least (yellow) of three levels of community spread of COVID-19 in the latest County Alert System update for the virus, released Feb. 22.

Wilkes was among counties with the most (red) community spread in the immediate prior alert on Feb. 4.

Wilkes had 616.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in the two-weeks ending Feb. 22.

For the other two factors that determine a county’s level of community spread, 7.9% of Wilkes COVID-19 tests came back positive in the same two weeks and Wilkes Medical Center had low impact from the virus.

Wilkes has continued having fewer new cases since Feb. 22 and on Saturday was listed with 278 new cases per 100,000 in the prior two weeks.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 5,982 Wilkes residents had tested positive for COVID-19 by Saturday. Wilkes had 103 COVID-19 deaths by Saturday, including 13 up to that point in February.

Yellow counties adjoining Wilkes in the Feb. 22 alert were Ashe and Watauga, with 345.6 and 596.3 new cases per 100,000 respectively. Both had low hospital impact. Seven% of the tests in Ashe came back positive in the two weeks and 6.2% in Watauga.

Red counties adjoining Wilkes were Alexander, Alleghany, Iredell, Surry with 613.4, 413, 747.5 and 925 new cases per 100,000 people respectively. Positive rates and hospital impact then the counties were Alexander, 10.4% and low impact; Alleghany, 11.1% and low impact; Iredell, 11.99% and moderate impact; Surry, 16.2% and high impact.

Caldwell and Yadkin were orange counties, which indicates substantial community spread. Caldwell had 506.2 and Yadkin 517.6 cases per 100,000 in the two weeks ending Feb. 22. Both had low hospital impact.

There were 27 red counties, 40 orange counties and 33 yellow counties in the Feb. 22 alert. The Feb. 4 alert had 61 red, 33 orange and six yellow counties.

The Feb. 22 update had the least red counties since the start of the County Alert System on Nov. 17, when Wilkes was a red county. Wilkes remained a red county until Dec. 8, when it became a yellow county. It later was orange.

Hospital impact is based on a composite score of four measures: 1.% of hospitalizations from COVID-19; 2. COVID-19 related visits to the hospital emergency department; 3. Total number of open beds for which the hospital has people to staff; and, 4. critical staffing shortages.

Counties without a hospital are assigned the average hospital impact score from the county where the highest percentage of their inpatient hospital admissions occurred.

To be assigned to the red or orange tier, a county must meet the threshold for case rate for that tier and the threshold for either% positive or hospital impact.

For red, the thresholds are more than 200 new cases in the prior two weeks, more than 10% positive and high impact on county hospital.

For orange, the thresholds are 101-200 new cases in the prior two weeks, 8-10% positive and moderate impact on county hospital.

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