CDC Community Levels - What Do They Mean?

What are Community Levels?

In February, the CDC updated the way it monitors COVID-19 and its impact on communities. With the widespread availability of vaccines, testing and treatments, COVID looks different than it did two years ago. Therefore, the way we approach COVID moving forward is going to look different, too. Instead of focusing primarily on case counts to gauge where we stand, we also consider additional predictors of severe outcomes due to COVID, including hospitalizations (and percent of beds utilized by COVID patients).

The CDC looks at the following three metrics to figure out COVID-19 community levels:

  • New cases: Total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days
  • Hospital admissions: New COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days (regional)
  • Hospital beds used: The 7-day average percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients (regional)

Notice that the hospitalization metrics are based on regional Health Service Areas, not just Winnebago County. Our region encompasses five counties, Fond du Lac, Dodge, Green Lake, Waushara and Winnebago. Using this information, the COVID-19 community level is classified as low, medium, or high. Once a week, on Thursday evenings, communities all across the country can get a fresh look at where they stand within these metrics, including Winnebago County.

Each COVID-19 Community Level has specific guidance that should be followed to minimize the impact COVID-19 has on individuals and healthcare systems. Find data for Winnebago County here.

COVID-19 Community Level Guidance:

Staying up to date on your vaccines is the best thing you can do, no matter the community level. Find a vaccination location here.

Everyone, regardless of their COVID-19 Community Level or individual risk, is recommended to practice all the following prevention strategies:

  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines by getting a booster dose when eligible. Find a vaccination location here.
  • If you have symptoms or were exposed, be sure to get tested and stay home while you’re sick/waiting for results.
  • Stay home and seek treatment when you are sick.
  • Know Before You Go: test prior to attending an event or seeing someone who is considered at risk to protect others.
  • Follow guidance associated with your COVID-19 Community Level.


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