By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama has not seen a significant increase or change in COVID-19 cases, deaths or hospitalizations since the Labor Day holiday two weeks ago, state health officials said Tuesday.
Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said the state’s overall COVID-19 numbers have increased very little since Labor Day, but people shouldn’t become lenient in health safety practices.
“It is very important that we continue to remind people that whether the holiday has passed, and maybe we’re not seeing anything creep back up, that we cannot afford to abandon what we have done and what we have worked so hard to achieve,” Landers told Alabama Daily News.
A little more than 11,000 new cases have been confirmed and 240 people have died of COVID-19 since Labor Day in Alabama.
Landers said Labor Day was the first holiday in the state where the state-wide mask order was in place and has shown to be helpful in slowing the spread.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, there were 262 new cases per 100,000 people in Alabama in the last two weeks.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has decreased by 8.6%, even as the seven-day average for tests taken has increased, the Associated Press reported.
Landers said the percentage of positive tests will likely stay around the 7.9% range this week, the lowest it has been since the pandemic began.
The U.S. COVID-19 death toll topped 200,000 on Tuesday. That’s roughly the population of Huntsville, the AP reported.
As of Tuesday, Alabama has had 146,584 positive cases, 2,457 deaths and currently 802 hospitalizations, according to Bamatracker.
With the upcoming fall and flu season, Landers said health officials are concerned about increases in cases.
“We also have to look at what brings people together in crowds, that increases close contact of persons and has people in small confined places which describes the holiday season,” Landers said.
She urges people to get a flu vaccine as soon as possible and continue wearing face masks in public spaces, maintaining six-feet of separation between others and using proper sanitation.
Landers said discussions are still ongoing with the Alabama Department of Education about creating a dashboard just for K-12 public school COVID-19 cases. She did not know when it would be ready. Earlier this month, State Superintendent Eric Mackey said case numbers by school would be available soon and updated weekly.
Landers also stressed the importance of school-age children and their families to keep up social distancing practicing outside of school.
“We want to them to be aware that its extremely important to adhere to the standards of operation for quarantine in cases of contact (with someone with COVID-19) and also adhere to the preventive measures for whether you’re in home or whether you’re in school or other congregate settings because persons can certainly be exposed outside of the school setting,” Landers said.