BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Mobile County is on track to surpass Jefferson County in confirmed cases of COVID-19, averaging a daily rate of 38 new cases of the virus over the last two weeks.
On April 7, Mobile County had 175 cases of COVID-19, while Jefferson County had 445. This is according to data provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
In 13 days, Jefferson County’s case count increased by 243 to 688 cases. Mobile County’s total number of cases rose to 673, an increase of 498.
Jefferson County is not believed to be on the other side of the curve according to Dr. Wesley Willeford, Medical Director of Disease Control, Jefferson County Department of Health. However, the frequency of cases is declining and at a quicker rate than other areas of the state.
“We are having decreasing numbers overall, but we haven’t had a day with zero cases yet. That is what I am really wanting to see sooner than later,” said Dr. Willeford.
He added, “Our numbers are a little bit better” than statewide figures and “that’s in part to shutting things down when we did.”
Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County’s Health Officer, ordered non-essential businesses to close March 20. Four days later, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin issued a shelter-in-place order. Governor Kay Ivey closed non-essential businesses statewide March 28 and issued a stay-at-home order effective April 4.
“The idea behind those measures is to decrease the chances of the virus to spread, and if you have a longer period of time without the virus spreading, by the very nature of it, you are going to have fewer cases,” explained Dr. Willeford. “That’s just the way the virus works because you have to be within 6-feet, have to have contact with someone who is ill, and if you’re largely cutting those chances down, then our numbers are going to look a little better and I think that’s why we are seeing pretty decent numbers right now.”
Dr. Willeford said based on current cases, Jefferson County peaked in early April, but added the peak plateaued. Cases are trending downward and while encouraged, Dr. Willeford said it’s too early to ease restrictions.
“I think we are doing well, I think we are steadily moving towards success with this but with that, I think the hardest part is your seeing the goal post coming up, and maybe you’re wanting to step back a little bit or try not to work as hard as we have been, but we made a lot of progress and we have been able to avoid catastrophe in our hospital system that I cannot encourage people enough that now is not the time to let up, now is the time to solider on,” said Dr. Willeford.
He added, “We understand that it is very hard, hard financially, hard just mentally, but the goal, we have to keep the goal in mind, is saving so many lives, that may be adversely impacted by this virus, and that is what we are trying to keep on the forefront of our minds, trying to think of the people we are helping.”