Gov. Roy Cooper and his Coronavirus Task Force unveiled a COVID-19 County Alert System displaying counties COVID-19 spread levels on Tuesday.

“Today, we’re introducing a county alert system, to identify North Carolina counties with the highest levels of community spread and offer specific recommendations on how working together with us can bring down their numbers,” Cooper said.

The map shows a color-coded map showing counties with the lowest to highest spreads.

Yellow: Significant Community Spread

Orange: Substantial Community Spread

Red: Critical Community Spread

As of noon, the NC Department of Health and Human Services website reported 317,405 total cases, 4,682,064 completed tests and 1,501 hospitalizations.

Cooper also said 4,852 North Carolinians have died from the virus.

“The weekend saw our highest day of reported cases, and today we have the highest rate of hospitalizations since the pandemic began,” he said. “North Carolina’s COVID-19 numbers remain too high. Our% positive has crept back up to around 8%. These are numbers we cannot ignore. But other states have been even worse right now and they should be the canary and coal mine for us. Last week we took action to lower our indoor gathering to 10 people because we know this virus spreads more easily indoors.

“Capacity limits remain in place for retail stores, restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses. We continue to tell people to wear masks and stay distant.”

Even though the alert system showed counties that were viral hotspots, Cooper said he wanted to be clear that the entire state is experiencing widespread transmission.

“Cases across the country are surging right now, overwhelming some hospitals, forcing states to go backward with their COVID-19 restrictions,” he said.

While the state numbers are increasing there is no surge in numbers, Cooper said.

“But a surge can happen quickly,” he said.

Cooper urged community members, officials, faith leaders in the orange and red counties to work together to take effective action to bring down their numbers to protect their hospital system and save lives.

“And it can prevent us from taking significant steps backward,” he said.

Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, secretary of the NCDHHS, provided a few details about the COVID-19 update. Cohen said she is concerned about the numbers of cases rising in the state.

“Today, we once again surpassed 3,000 new cases in one day, and the% of tests that are positive continues to climb,” she said. “While our hospitals have the capacity, they’re feeling the strain, particularly in the triad area.”

The alert system is based on three metrics:

Case Rate: Number of new cases in 14 days per 100,000 people

% Positive:% of tests that are positive over 14 days

Hospital Impact:% of COVID-19 hospitalizations; COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department; staffed open hospital beds; and critical staffing shortages over 14 days

These metrics help determine which county is color-coded.

Cohen said counties that are identified as meeting the criteria for red or orange tiers will stay in those tiers for at least four weeks to give them time to make progress.

“The bottom line is that the COVID-19 county alert system gives North Carolinians an easy way to see how their county’s doing,” she said. “And to know what they can do to protect their family, their neighbors and slow the spread of this virus.”

As of Tuesday, Halifax County has 1,740 positive cases and 33 deaths. Northampton County has 721 cases and 26 deaths.