RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Half of North Carolina’s counties are in the orange zone on a national map and have reached the highest community level of COVID-19.

All but five of the state’s 100 counties are colored orange with the highest level of spread or yellow with a medium level on the latest weekly map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Photo credit: CDC)

More than 98 percent of the state’s 10.4 million people live in a county that is either orange or yellow.

Only five counties were green with low levels of the virus, and most of them aren’t anywhere near central North Carolina: Madison, Watauga, Ashe, Caswell and Haywood counties.

A surge driven by the BA.5 omicron variant has led the number of counties in the orange zone to mushroom: There were four on June 30, and that jumped to 18 on July 7 and then to 41 last week.

The CDC recommends everyone in the orange counties wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, including K-12 schools and other community settings.

A county moves into the orange, high-level zone if it has more than 200 new cases per week for every 100,000 people who live there, and has either more than ten COVID-19 hospital admissions that week for every 100,000 people, or if 10 percent or more of the people in hospitals have COVID-19.

That case rate was at 200 or higher in 90 counties. Vance County had the highest at more than 487. Five counties had more than 20 COVID hospital admissions per capita.