HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Almost three years after the first reported cases of COVID-19, the virus continues to impact the Tennessee Valley.

According to the latest data on the Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) COVID-19 Dashboard, four North Alabama counties are listed as having “high” community levels of the virus. Three other counties are listed in the “medium” level and four others are listed as “low.”

But what do those levels mean?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers an explanation. Each level correlates with how much COVID-19 is circulating in any given community. Obviously, if your county is labeled at a “high” community level, it means there is more virus per capita than in counties labeled in the “low” category.

The dashboard shows the following levels for each county, as of Thursday, December 22:

  • High: Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale
  • Medium: Jackson, Limestone, Madison
  • Low: DeKalb, Lawrence, Marshall, Morgan

Federal health officials offered tips for how to react to each community level, depending on where you live:

  • If you live in a county labeled with a “low” community level, the CDC recommends staying up to date on vaccinations, avoid contact with people who could have COVID-19, and follow isolation and exposure recommendations if you have COVID-19.
  • If you live in a county labeled with a “medium” community level, the CDC recommends wearing a high-quality mask or respirator indoors if you’re at a high risk of developing the virus and if you have contact with someone at a high-risk of getting sick, self-test or wear a mask when near them indoors.
  • If you live in a county labeled with a “high” community level, the CDC recommends wearing a high-quality mask or respirator and avoid non-essential indoor activities where you could be exposed.

“Everyone 6 months and older should get all doses in their COVID-19 vaccine primary series,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris in his monthly message. “For your primary series, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Novavax COVID-19 vaccines are recommended. Then the newer bivalent COVID-19 booster shots will help protect against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.”

Learn more about COVID-19 protocols and details related to your county’s COVID-19 community level at cdc.gov.