Marshall County accounts for 2 out of every 3 coronavirus cases in Sand Mountain. The Huntsville Hospital CEO recently called the county "a hot spot."
But, WAAY 31 had questions about what exactly is a hot spot, and what do health officials use to determine what areas are hot spots.
Dr. Karen Landers, a doctor with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said hot spot is a complex and broad term that includes a lot of different factors. But to boil it down, it has to do with the increase of cases in an area compared to the number of people in that area.
"If we look at counties by population we see that some of more rural counties have actually higher numbers of cases compared to the population," Landers said
She told WAAY 31 when health officials label an area as a hot spot, it's not necessarily because they have a high number of cases.
Instead, it's because the number of cases is high compared to the number of people who live there. But, she said that's just one factor that leads to an area being named a "hot spot."
"Factors in terms of access to testing, access to health care and just the belief of that person did they need to be tested based upon their symptoms," she said.
Marshall County has the second-highest number of cases of any county in North Alabama. Only Madison County has more but also has more than triple the population - so it’s not considered a hot spot.
"Madison County has had a lower rate per the population," Landers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looks at the rate of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
At that rate, Marshall County averages 109 cases for every 100,000 people. Madison county has more cases but is averaging 53 cases per 100,000people. That’s less than half.
Landers said everyone should look past the numbers and make sure to follow the social distancing and stay at home guidelines.
"Whether your county is defined as a county with increasing cases or a county that's leveling off that doesn't give you the opportunity to say well i'm just going to ignore this now that my county is going down,' she said. 'We must stay vigilant statewide in order to reduce the spread of this virus."
Landers said there really aren't any other counties in North Alabama she would define as a hot spot. But, regardless she said stay home unless it is absolutely necessary for you to leave the house.