As the COVID public health emergency expires on May 11, the CDC will stop reporting its color-coded Covid-19 Community Levels.
Now, like the flu and other respiratory infections, it will be tracked by hospitalizations.
The agency could announce the end of its community levels as early as next week, though the timing has not yet been finalized, the person said.
The agency adopted its Covid-19 Community Levels in late February of 2022. The community levels replaced an older map that color coded counties by the weekly rate of new infections and what percentage of Covid-19 tests were found to be positive.
The new Community Levels shifted the focus to hospitals – how many people were being admitted for Covid-19 and how many beds were left. The model also took into account the weekly rate of new infections in an area.
The impact was immediate. Suddenly areas that had appeared dark red for high transmission on a map turned a less threatening yellow or green. Under the CDC’s new system, masks were no longer recommended for large swaths of the country.
The change in metrics will happen out of necessity, the source said.
The end of the public health emergency will mean that health departments are no longer required to submit Covid-19 case numbers to the CDC, taking away its ability to track that metric.
“Some of the metrics simply cannot be sustained, because of the change in data reporting,” the person said.