October 1, 2022

CDC Announces New COVID Tool to Determine ‘Community Levels’; All CT Counties, Except Middlesex, Now Classified as ‘Low Spread Potential’

LYME/OLD LYME — As we know, both the CDC and Governor Lamont have determined that decisions regarding mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 have been “driven down” to local decision makers, who have been provided reliable data and information. For example, LymeLine has reported on decisions made by Superintendent Ian Neviaser regarding masks in LOL schools.

The reason for this is that — in light of the state’s high levels of vaccination and, presumably, the concomitant high level of population immunity — the risk of medically significant disease, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19 is greatly reduced for many people.

However, we also know that some individuals and communities — including the elderly, those who are immunocompromised, and people with disabilities — are at greater risk for serious illness.

In support of those local determinations, the CDC just announced a new aggregate metric, COVID-19 Community Levels, that is designed to assist our local decision makers determine what preventive steps to take, based on their local experience and unique need. Note that, in terms of this new metric, “Community” refers to the County-level.

This new metric takes a broader, “multi-variate” look at the COVID experience, and relies on the combination of three measures: the rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions, the portion of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, and the rate of new cases in the community.

Using these data, the COVID-19 Community Level is categorized and reported as Low (“spread potential”), Medium, or High.

To illustrate, in Low spread counties, local officials can eliminate any indoor masking rules; but residents should still stay current on vaccinations and undergo testing if they experience COVID-19 symptoms.

In Medium spread counties, people at high risk for severe disease should be cautious, and consider continuing to wear masks indoors.

In High spread counties, the CDC suggests that masking should be universal, and advises that additional precautions should be considered for those at high risk of illness.

Due to the general compliance in Connecticut with vaccination and mitigation recommendations, all Connecticut counties, except Middlesex, fall within the “Low” category — Middlesex is “Medium.”

The CDC website carries Community Levels for every county in the United States, which might assist in making travel decisions.

Ledge Light Health District’s role continues to be very important.

Staff at LLHD will review and interpret the data in order to advise our communities on additional precautions that might be considered locally. Further, data on new cases and positivity rates may provide them an early indicator of a potential new variant or a COVID-19 surge.