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

Flawed study claims ivermectin reduced COVID-19 mortality

A questionable large study conducted in Brazil found that ivermectin allegedly reduced mortality by 92 percent against COVID-19. The study included over 100,000 participants, but nearly two-thirds of them, including participants who developed COVID-19 while taking ivermectin, were excluded from the analysis. The study’s authors published a similar poorly controlled study last year that claimed

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Claim circulates that vaccines are “98 times” more harmful than COVID-19

The false, meaningless claim that COVID-19 vaccines are “98 times” more harmful than COVID-19 is being circulated by right-wing blogs, social media accounts, and a popular conspiracy web broadcast. The claim is based not on a scientific study but on a non-peer reviewed risk-benefit analysis of COVID-19 boosters for university students. Recommendation: Medium Risk

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Out-of-context clip used to claim Dr. Fauci lied about natural immunity

A U.S. senator used a clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci saying that natural immunity is better than vaccination in an attempt to discredit the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director. The senator, who frequently promotes vaccine misinformation, claims that the video is proof that Dr. Fauci lied about the effectiveness of natural immunity

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