Frequently Asked Questions about Data and reporting

COVID-19 Community Level is a CDC framework to monitor COVID-19, a measure that takes into consideration hospitalizations, hospital capacity, and cases within a community. This approach is designed to help keep people safer from severe COVID-19 and help maintain local healthcare systems. The CDC makes recommendations based on COVID-19 Community Level, and encourages local decision-makers to use it to inform policies and encourages community members to use it to assess their own risk. 

Regardless of COVID-19 Community Levels, the CDC recommends that people get vaccinated and boosted when eligible, and take precautions like getting tested when sick. When the level is higher, more prevention measures, like masking or enhanced screening protocols, are recommended to keep people healthy and limit strain on the local healthcare system. And at any Level, individuals may decide to take additional precautions based on their risk level, risk tolerance, and personal preference.

CDC recommendations at each COVID-19 Community Level include:

  • Low: Get vaccinated and boosted, and tested if you have symptoms.
  • Medium: Consider wearing a mask if you are or a member of your household is at high risk for severe COVID-19. (In addition to vaccination, boosting, and testing).
  • High: Everyone age 2 and up should wear a mask in public, indoor settings, including schools and workplaces. (In addition to vaccination, boosting, and testing).

Added February 25, 2022

Hospitals, healthcare providers, and laboratories track COVID-19 cases and report COVID-19 case information to public health departments, which report detailed data to the CDC. The CDC makes this data publicly available and reports national COVID-19 data to the World Health Organization, as required under international health regulations. Accurately tracking the spread of COVID-19 helps federal, state, and local decision-makers allocate critical emergency response funding and develop public health guidance.  

COVID-19 remains a serious threat to public health, and there is evidence to support the current case count. In fact, experts agree that the number of COVID cases and deaths are probably undercounted because not everyone with COVID will have been tested and diagnosed.

The CDC’s data report also helps scientists and medical experts evaluate trends to identity groups most at risk. For example, data show that underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease greatly increases a person’s risk for life-threatening consequences from the infection. The high rate of chronic illness in the U.S. (6 in 10 adults have a chronic disease) has contributed to the high number of COVID-19 deaths, but it is important to remember that people with pre-existing conditions would likely have lived years longer if they had not been infected with COVID-19. For that reason, even with an underlying condition, the cause of these deaths is COVID-19.

Updated February 18, 2022

Messaging Resources about Data and reporting

Misinformation Alerts about Data and reporting

Posts claim CDC’s new guidelines mean unvaccinated have same risk as vaccinated

The CDC recently updated its COVID-19 guidance to make the same recommendations for people who have been exposed to COVID-19 regardless of their vaccination status. Some social media users are claiming that the updated guidelines mean that there was never a difference in COVID-19 risk for vaccinated and unvaccinated people and that previous guidelines were

Read More

Article misleadingly claims COVID-19 vaccine causes high rate of side effects

A website that is known for publishing hoaxes and fabricated news stories is claiming that data from a German health insurer suggests that one in 25 of the insurer’s clients were treated for COVID-19 vaccine side effects last year. The article is based on totaling the use of four diagnosis health insurer codes.  Recommendation: Medium

Read More