MOORESVILLE, NC — Iredell County is one of 43 counties experiencing substantial community spread, according to a new COVID-19 county alert system unveiled by state officials Tuesday. The news comes as at least 74 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the county in the span of a day, increasing the countywide tally to 4,885 cases, according to Iredell County Health Department data.
The county's coronavirus death toll also rose to 56 Tuesday, an increase of four lives lost to the virus since Monday. At least 23 county residents remained hospitalized for COVID-19 illness, ICHD said.
The new color-coded COVID-19 County Alert System aims to pinpoint viral hot spots around the state while offering specific recommendations for county-wide action to help slow the spread of the virus.
"This system will help our counties make decisions about what more can be done to slow the spread of the virus," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday during a news conference. "The whole state is experiencing widespread transmission. Cases across the country are surging, forcing states to go backward. Right now our metrics are increasing, not surging. But a surge can happen quickly."
The new alert system will make available localized data, such as case rates and impact on medical resources, more accessible. Counties will be designated as red, orange or yellow depending on the rate of local spread, based upon three specific metrics:
Case Rate — the number of new cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 people
Percent Positive — percent of tests that are positive over 14 days
Hospital Impact — percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations, COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department, staffed open hospital beds and critical staffing shortages over 14 days
Counties will stay in the colored tier for at least four weeks. The color tiers indicate:
Red — critical community spread
Orange — substantial community spread
Yellow — significant community spread
Currently, at least 10 counties in North Carolina have critical community spread of COVID-19: Avery, Yancy, Wilkes, Alexander, Davie, Gaston, Hoke, Columbus, Sampson and Wilson counties.
Residents of Iredell County, along with those in other red and orange communities, are advised to limit mixing between households, minimizing the number of people in social circles, reducing public interactions to mainly essential activities and avoiding settings where people congregate. Businesses in those communities will also be advised to use telework whenever possible, cancel non-essential travel, and avoid indoor meetings or events that include more than 10 people. Public officials in those counties will be advised to step up mask and gathering limit enforcement, and encouraged to adopt local ordinances with civil penalties.
As of Tuesday, North Carolina reported 317,495 confirmed coronavirus cases, which included 3,288 new cases confirmed since Monday, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Statewide, 1,501 were reported hospitalized — the highest number reported yet since the pandemic began.
Iredell County health officials group cases into three regions of the county: North, Central and South. Here's a breakdown of how many cases were confirmed in each region as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17:
North Region (zip codes 27020, 27028, 27055, 28625, 28634, 28636, 28660, 28689 and 28678)
986 cases (up from 956 cases reported Nov. 13)
Central Region (zip codes 27013, 28166, 28677)
1,953 cases (up from 1,895 cases reported Nov. 13)
South Region (zip codes 28036, 28115, 28117, 28125)
1,946 cases (up from 1,879 cases reported Nov. 13)