New cases, hospitalizations level off as state mask mandate is set to expire

New cases, hospitalizations level off as state mask mandate is set to expire

Alabama reported 1,180 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, as the seven-day average of new cases continued to trend downward to 1,604, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Ten days ago, the seven day average for new cases was 1,851.

Bama Tracker new cases and seven-day average

Gov. Kay Ivey’s two week mask mandate is set to expire Friday, but she is expected to make a decision on extending the order this morning.

There were 1,598 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations reported Tuesday, representing little change from earlier in the week, but the precipitous climb in hospitalizations appears to have leveled off for the time being. No new deaths from the virus were reported Tuesday, according to ADPH.

Bama Tracker confirmed hospitalizations and seven-day average

According to ADPH, it is too early to say whether the data point to success from the local and statewide mask mandates.

“The impact cannot be adequately measured yet due to persons already incubating virus when the order was put in place, but may be able to begin to reduce viral spread by asymptomatic or presymptomatic persons,” said Dr. Karen Landers of ADPH. “Mask mandates remain the consensus best advice of medical professionals and public health officials, along with social distancing and good respiratory hygiene, including good hand washing and hand sanitizing…”

Hospitals are asking Ivey to extend a statewide face mask order.

East Alabama Medical Center urged the extension of the mask mandate, noting that the COVID-19 count “is still very high in the hospital.”

“We need to lower our census first, and so do other hospitals,” Dr. Ricardo Maldonado said in the hospital’s statement posted on Facebook.

“We feel strongly that Governor Ivey should extend it for several more weeks. Our COVID-19 census now is dangerously high, and we will likely go on critical care diversion this week meaning that patients in need of critical care will have to go to other hospitals,” the statement said.

Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now now heads the Alabama Hospital Association, said the association also supports an extension.

He said the state in recent days has seen a slight decrease in the number of cases, but the state does not need to abandon the mask order. COVID-19 patients tend to stay in the hospital a long time. Williamson said as of Tuesday, 90% of the state’s intensive care beds were full, the highest number since the pandemic began.

“We have to continue until the disease is at a very low level and 1,100 (cases per day) is not a low level,” Williamson said. “If you do away with the mask order, more people get infected and we head right back up.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.