While states across the country tighten their COVID-19 restrictions, Alabama officials have chosen to move forward with the current Safer at Home orders that have been in effect since the end of May. In a Tuesday morning press conference, Gov. Kay Ivey extended the current orders through the end of July.
Despite rising numbers, Gov. Ivey continues to stress personal responsibility to combat the community spread. Even though the orders require businesses, restaurants, and other venues to operate under restrictions such as limited capacity and required use of face masks, there has been up to this point limited enforcement of these orders.
That’s unlikely to change as Alabamians head out for Fourth of July celebrations and community firework shows over the long holiday weekend.
Blount County isn’t immune from this spike in COVID-19 cases. In the last 14 days, Blount County alone has seen an increase of 83 cases. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported there were a total of 204 confirmed cases in Blount County with one confirmed death. Across the state, there have been 37,536 cases with 926 deaths.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris reported that more than 10,000 of those confirmed cases have come in the last 14 days resulting in more than 700 hospitalizations, which is higher than at any other time since the start of the pandemic.
“Approximately 28 percent of all Alabama’s cases have occurred in the last 14 days,” he said during the press conference. “What we are seeing is an increasing transmission in the community. It’s important for people to understand that what you do affects other people and it affects other people in very real ways.”
Since June 13, UAB Hospital has experienced a new in-house high four times, including three times in the past five days — from 69 to 70 to 74. Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at the highest point they’ve ever been with at least 715 people hospitalized as of Monday.
So how can we slow the spread?
Ivey said that individuals, businesses, restaurants, etc. “should follow the orders that have been mandated” by the state. For a com- plete list of these mandates, go to www.adph.org.
Dr. Harris also reminds everyone to stay home unless it’s necessary to get out and to adhere to social distancing guidelines when you do go out. He also stressed the importance of wearing a mask any time you are in a public space.
He said that studies illustrate how COVID-19 can be spread through speaking, coughing, and sneezing — including by asymptomatic people, and cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19 when combined with everyday preventive actions and social distancing in public settings.
“This is the simplest act of kindness you can take for your community, especially those who are at high risk of contracting the virus,” he said.
He urges everyone to “wear face coverings to show you care about others.” Harris continued, “wearing face coverings is not a substitute for social distancing, washing hands, and staying home while ill, but they are helpful when combined with these primary interventions. Wearing a face covering is an outward and visible way to demonstrate good manners, show respect for others, and help safeguard the health of Alabamians.”