NATIONAL NEWS

CDC set to stop tracking community levels for Covid-19

Apr 28, 2023, 8:35 PM

A general view of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta...

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia September 30, 2014.(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

(CNN) — As the nation’s public health emergency expires on May 11, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stop reporting its color-coded Covid-19 Community Levels as a way to track the spread of the infection.

Instead, the CDC will keep tabs on Covid-19 largely by tracking hospitalizations in some areas, according to a source familiar with the agency’s plans.

This is much the same way the agency tracks other respiratory infections, such as the flu.

Hospitalizations are a lagging indicator: it generally takes a person a week to 10 days to be hospitalized with a Covid-19 infection. So the switch may mean that the nation is losing its capacity for the earliest warning of an uptick in the spread.

However, wastewater testing in communities and for air travelers will continue and is expected to close some of those early warning gaps.

“We’re not going to lose complete surveillance, but we will lose that hyperlocal sensitivity to it perhaps,” the source said.

The agency could announce the end of its community levels as early as next week, though the timing has not yet been finalized, the person said.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The agency adopted its Covid-19 Community Levels in late February of 2022. The community levels replaced an older map that color-coded counties by the weekly rate of new infections and what percentage of Covid-19 tests were found to be positive.

The new Community Levels shifted the focus to hospitals — how many people were being admitted for Covid-19 and how many beds were left. The model also took into account the weekly rate of new infections in an area.

The impact was immediate. Suddenly areas that had appeared dark red for high transmission on a map turned a less threatening yellow or green. Under the CDC’s new system, masks were no longer recommended for large swaths of the country.

The change in metrics will happen out of necessity, the source said.

The end of the public health emergency will mean that the government no longer has the authority to require labs to report their Covid-19 testing data, which will impact the ability to calculate a metric called percent positivity.

Covid-19 is a reportable condition, so doctors will still have to report cases to public health officials, but the frequency of that reporting may change. New Mexico, for example, has said that it will report its cases on a monthly basis going forward.

“Some of the metrics simply cannot be sustained, because of the change in data reporting,” the person said.

Cases had already become a less reliable way to track community spread as people switched to home testing and infections went unreported to health authorities.

Currently 97% of counties and territories in the US have a low level of Covid-19 in the community, with 79 counties at a medium community level and just 15 counties or districts at a high level.

The number of weekly Covid-19 cases has been on a steady decline since January. More than 88,000 new Covid-19 cases and 1,052 deaths were reported in the US last week, according to CDC data.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

FILE: A general view of a Wendy's restaurant on Sept. 15, 2022, in Farmingdale, New York, United St...

Associated Press

Wendy’s says it has no plans to raise prices during the busiest times at its restaurants

Wendy's says that it has no plans to increase prices during the busiest times at its restaurants.

34 minutes ago

Cave filled with clear water...

CNN

You know the most visited, but here are the least visited US national parks in 2023

There are no roads and no trails in America’s least-visited national park. Just vast wilderness. Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, located 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Fairbanks, stretches over 8.4 million acres.

15 hours ago

Taylor Swift is pictured at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game in Kansas City in January. (Ed Zurga, ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Taylor Swift baked ‘homemade Pop-Tarts’ for Travis Kelce’s teammates, says coach Andy Reid

Thanks to her well-known love of baking, Taylor Swift won over her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs teammates the old-fashioned way: by baking them “homemade Pop-Tarts,” according to the team’s coach Andy Reid.

16 hours ago

The lowest single-day price for Animal Kingdom has gone up by $10 for 2025 tickets. (AaronP/Bauer-G...

Marnie Hunter, CNN

Walt Disney World has raised ticket prices for 2025

Walt Disney World has put 2025 tickets on sale, and prices for many tickets have gone up from 2024 pricing.

17 hours ago

FILE - A solar farm sits in Mona, Utah, on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. The House voted Friday, April 28,...

Sophie Austin, Associated Press/Report for America

Biden administration taps $366M to fund clean energy for Native American tribes and rural areas

The federal government will fund 17 projects across the U.S. to expand access to renewable energy on Native American reservations and in other rural areas, the Biden administration announced on Tuesday.

18 hours ago

Police in the Caribbean are investigating the disappearance of an American couple after escaped inm...

Polo Sandoval, Elizabeth Wolfe and Sahar Akbarzai, CNN

Missing American couple allegedly hijacked on yacht in Grenada were likely thrown overboard, police say

The American couple allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners while on their yacht in Grenada last week were likely thrown overboard, police said.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

CDC set to stop tracking community levels for Covid-19