Alabama virus cases surge, prompting new health warnings

Alabama virus cases surge, prompting new health warnings

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A surge of coronavirus cases in Alabama is prompting renewed health warnings from health and public officials that the risk of COVID-19 remains, and people need to take precautions.

As of Friday, more than 23,000 people statewide had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, with more than one-fourth of the cases coming in the last two weeks. The state reported 1,500 cases over a two-day period.

“COVID-19 spreads quickly, and your actions affect others,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said in a Friday statement.

Harris told The Associated Press this week that it is more important than ever for people to take precautions.

“I think reopening the economy gave a lot of people the wrong impression, or they intentionally acquired the wrong impression, that, ‘Hey everything is fine. Let’s go back to normal.’ And clearly, it is not that way. Really, now more than ever we need people to stay 6 feet apart, wear face coverings and wash their hands,” Harris said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said Alabama has experienced outbreaks at workplaces, long-term care facilities, and as a result of large gatherings, such as those occurring during the Memorial Day holiday.

“This virus is not going away. It is still dangerous. It is still going through our communities. We cannot attribute this to more testing,” U.S. Sen. Doug Jones said in a press conference Friday.

Dr. David Thrasher, a Montgomery-area pulmonologist, said the pandemic remains “hot and heavy” in Alabama. He urged people to take precautions, saying that mask-wearing shouldn’t be viewed as a political or partisan issue.

“I want them to please stay 6 feet apart and please, please, please wear a mask,“ Thrasher said. “It saves lives.”

A spokeswoman for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the governor and Harris are “closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation.” When asked if new closure orders are under consideration, the governor’s office emphasized the role of personal responsibility in stopping the spread of the virus.

“As Governor Ivey said during her most recent press conference, the threat of this virus is not behind us. She continues to stress that this virus requires all of us to practice personal responsibility, not only for ourselves, but others,” Ivey spokeswoman Gina Maiola said.

State health officials reminded people to: cover their faces when they cough or sneezes; do not touch your face; wash hands often; avoid close contact with people who are sick; maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household; use cloth face coverings when in public; and clean and disinfect frequently used items and touched surfaces often.