Coronavirus Updates

How do I know if I need to wear a mask? What the color-coded CDC map means

Coronavirus in West Virginia

CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Throughout this pandemic, the color-coded map from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) has been used to describe the intensity of the pandemic.

With infection numbers trending the wrong way, health officials clarify what the current colors really mean to you.

The WVDHHR map has been a valuable tool for health officials in tracking the spread of COVID-19.

“The DHHR dashboard is really important and it gives us some really valuable numbers on where we’re at in terms of testing, in terms of new cases, and in terms of vaccination rates,” says Hannah Petracca, public information officer for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

For example, Cabell County is currently in the ‘orange’ color designation. What does this mean to anyone in an ‘orange’ county?

“The orange indicator is reflective of an increase in new cases but also an increase in positive test results,” Petracca says.

Continuing the example, Cabell County has a percent positivity rate of 6.85%, and an infection rate of 21.60% as of Wednesday morning. What can community members take away from this?

“Percent positivity rate is indicating that our testing overall is low, but the positive test results out of that are high. So, it’s a really good indicator that we need more testing done. We need to get folks out and tested so that we can get an accurate representation of where we’re at overall in a county,” Petracca says.

Some of those working on the frontlines of the testing effort are seeing signs of progress in getting more people tested:

“As of right now, we’re doing about 20 to 30 a day, if not more… In the wintertime, we done about eight to ten a day, so it’s starting to pick up a lot,” says Jacqueline Swims, who is performing COVID-19 tests by the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) dashboard also puts Cabell County in the ‘red’ color designation, meaning there are high rates of transmission.

Additionally, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department recently built their own dashboard displaying the risk in the county as ‘Substantial.’

While the color designations and language between the federal, state, and local maps may differ slightly, the guidance for a county with high rates of transmission is clear:

“They say that for substantial which is orange and high which is red, that you follow the same level of precaution: wearing masks indoors, getting vaccinated as soon as possible, and also getting tested so that we can get an accurate number of how many cases we have here in Cabell County,” Petracca says.

Health officials say all of this information gives us all a better shot at turning the virus around again.

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