Font Size:

Public Health Guidance for Reopening

As of July 29, 2021, the Risk Indicator Dashboard is retired. ADPH has revised its Data and Surveillance Dashboard: align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicators and overall levels of community transmission.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is using data and metrics to make recommendations to assist the Governor's Office, partners, and stakeholders across the state in making decisions about safely reopening Alabama. COVID-19 remains very contagious and our data and metrics tell us that we should continue to take preventative measures to protect ourselves and our communities and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We are committed to continuing to do the work to protect the health and safety of Alabamians by giving guidance based on the best science and public health practices available. We will continue to maintain and update the statewide data and metrics and provide consistent localized data for use in local decision-making for reopening plans.

Table of Contents



Risk Categories

A color-coded health guidance system has been developed by the State of Alabama to guide health behaviors for individuals and businesses. Categories: Very High (red), High (orange), Moderate (yellow), and Low (green) indicate the risk of spread in the community. Each level of the dial is guided by a rigorous measurement system which can be different by county.

High-risk individuals in the red risk category, including older adults and those who are immunocompromised, should continue to follow stricter protocols, and exercise all possible caution. Individuals who work or live with persons in high-risk categories should also continue following stricter guidance.

Find out your county's risk category using our COVID-19 Risk Indicator Dashboard. Shortened Link: Mobile Version Shortened Link:

Dashboard Data Source: ADPH Infectious Diseases & Outbreaks Division using the Alabama NEDSS Base System (ALNBS), our disease reporting and surveillance system, and the Alabama Syndromic Surveillance System (AlaSyS).

Data posted on our dashboard are updated on Thursdays for data reported through the previous Saturday. Data are lagged to allow for completeness in reporting. These data can change as new information about cases is gathered or updated, which means the risk categories could change from red to green and back to red. All data are provisional and subject to change.

back to top


Current Status of Alabama's 67 Counties

(Last Updated: July 22, 2021)

Low Risk (Green) Category [5]: Bullock, Cleburne, Perry, Pickens, Sumter

Moderate Risk (Yellow) Category [1]: Choctaw

High Risk (Orange) Category [2]: Lamar, Marengo

Very High Risk (Red) Category [59]: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clarke, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Randolph, Russell, St. Clair, Shelby, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Winston

Most Recent Risk Indicator Table and Map: 07/22

2021 Archived Tables and Maps: 07/15 | 07/08 | 07/01 | 06/24 | 06/17 | 06/10 | 06/03 | 05/27 | 05/20 | 05/13 | 05/06 | 04/29 | 04/22 | 04/15 | 04/08 | 04/01 | 03/25 | 03/18 | 03/11 | 03/04 | 02/25 | 02/18 | 02/11 | 02/04 | 01/28 | 01/21 | 01/14 | 01/07

2020 Archived Tables and Maps: 12/31 | 12/23 | 12/17 | 12/10 | 12/10 | 12/03 | 11/25 | 11/20 | 11/13 | 11/06 | 10/30 | 10/23 | 10/16 | 10/09 | 10/02 | 09/25 | 09/18 | 09/11 | 09/04 | 08/28 | 08/21 | 08/14 | 08/07 | 07/31 | 07/24 | 07/17 | 07/10 | 07/03 | 06/30

back to top


Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses

People living in a place in the red, orange, or yellow categories should follow these guidelines to help move their area into the low risk phase. People living in a place in the green category should follow the guidelines below to help keep their area in the low risk phase.

AL Guidelines for Reopening - Lowest (Green)    18AL Guidelines for Reopening - Low Risk (Yellow)

AL Guidelines for Reopening - Moderate Risk (Orange)   AL Guidelines for Reopening - High Risk (Red)

back to top


How Risk Categories Are Assigned

Calculations for each county’s risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is based on number of new cases each day. To better represent when the person could potentially spread the disease, the “case date” is calculated based either on the date of specimen collection or symptom onset, depending on which date was first. These factors were chosen because they are not subject to reporting delays. If both specimen collection date and onset date are not available, case date is determined through either the date the test was entered into the lab system or the date the public health investigation of the case was initiated. Once again, we use the earliest date, to determine case date. The number of new cases each day is calculated with a rolling 3-day average to account for fluctuations in reporting.

Metric: Declining New Cases
Our main indicator for limiting the risk of COVID-19 spread in the community is the number of days a county has a downward trend of new cases each day. Whether the case counts are increasing or decreasing influences a county’s level (e.g., low risk). In determining the trajectory of cases, there is a five-day grace period, meaning that each county can have up to five days with an increase in new cases in a 14-day window before they are considered to not be in a downward trajectory. The purpose of the five-day grace period is to account for minor fluctuations that do not truly change the downward trend in cases.

  • If the number of cases is staying the same or is increasing, the category will be Very High Risk (Red).
  • If a county has decreasing case counts for 1 to 6 days, they will begin in the High Risk (orange) category.
  • If a county is in a downward trajectory of 7-13 days, they will begin in the Moderate (yellow) category.
  • If a county is in a downward trajectory of 14 or more days (or has a rate of 10 or less over the previous 2 weeks), they will begin in the Low Risk (green) category.

Several factors can influence a county’s trajectory of COVID-19 cases, so other factors are examined to additionally inform which level a county should be in.

Metrics: Percent Positive Declining and Testing Goals Met
Confidence in trends is dependent upon testing volume within the county, the second measure. The testing goal is met when at least 0.8% of a county’s population is tested every two weeks (or about 2% per month). The timeline of two weeks is designed to ensure that counties provide testing opportunities for their citizens regularly, with the consideration that some weeks may not be conducive to high test rates (i.e., holidays). The percentage of positive tests is also taken into consideration, with the goal being a significant decrease in the percent positive or less than 10% of people tested having a positive test result with no significant changes. A value of yes means the county passed the metric, while a value of no means they did not pass.

  • If a county has a significant decrease in the percentage of positive tests, the percentage positive indicator will display as yes, regardless of the percentage value.
  • If a county does not have a significant change, and the percentage of positive tests equals or is below 10%, the percentage positive indicator will display as yes.
  • If a county does not have a significant change, and the percentage of positive tests is above 10%, the percentage positive indicator will display as no.
  • If a county has a significant increase in the percentage of positive tests, the percentage positive indicator will display as no, regardless of the percentage value.

If a county meets the measure of at least 0.8% of its citizens being tested over the most recent 14-day period, the county remains in the same level as the initial assessment above, given that percent positive goal is also met. If fewer than 0.8% of the population was tested, then the county will move up one level (i.e., low to moderate).

If a county fails the percent positive measure but passes the measure to test 0.8% of the population, it will still move up a level as this indicates a potentially higher percentage of persons with COVID-19. If a county fails both measures, it will still only move up one level. If a county passes both measures, it will remain at the same level.

Metric: Visits for Covid-Like Symptoms Declining
The third factor to be considered at this time is trends in the percent of visits that are people presenting with COVID-like symptoms in emergency rooms or urgent care clinics. This measure is designed to detect residents of the county with COVID-19 who may not be tested for various reasons. If a county has a decreasing number of people presenting in with COVID-like symptoms, or if the number of people presenting with COVID-like symptoms remains stable or is fewer than 10 over a 12-day period, the county will remain at the same level. If the number of people presenting with COVID-like symptoms in urgent healthcare settings is significantly increasing, then the county moves up a level.

back to top


Resources for Reopening

For entities deciding on whether or not to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has decision tools to assist you in making reopening decisions.

The Alabama State Department of Education has information on reopening schools in Alabama.

The Office of the Governor has created graphics related to the new Safer Apart Order for businesses to print and share in their stores.

back to top

Page last updated: March 23, 2023