Health professionals respond to spike in COVID-19 cases

Health professionals respond to spike in COVID-19 cases
Increasing reports of new COVID-19 cases (Source: ADPH)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama saw a record number of reported coronavirus cases again today. Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said the big increases are likely to continue as the state opens up for businesses and entertainment; especially if people fail to do the right things to keep them and their families safe.

One Birmingham woman is still worried about the safety of her family after the new record number of confirmed cases were announced this week. “It’s scary as it always has been. That is very scary. It’s too close to home.” Velma Peterson said.

State Health Officer Scott Harris said the increase can be attributed to some of the Memorial Holiday activities. “We don’t have an obvious explanation for it that is really the definition of community transmission that more people are out there every day life going through their every day activities. They get exposed without realizing it.” Harris said.

Harris believes the big increases could continue for a while. There are concerns about the spread of COVID-19 with the recent statewide protests. What would it take for a return to closing down businesses?

“We are in different position than we were over three months ago. I don’t know if the public tolerance is for shutting down again.” Harris said.

Peterson plans to do all she can to continue to protect her family. “Treating like we have been. It’s full blown. A lot of things are open now but it doesn’t matter to me, my family. It’s the masks, the gloves , the hand sanitizers,” Peterson said.

Dr Harris said the health department is concerned about the upcoming fourth of July Weekend. Harris said increasing numbers and hospitals capacity are some of the factors to watch but so far hospitals statewide are doing well.

He doesn’t rule out another shutdown in a particular area in the future.

The Jefferson County Health Department released the following statement in response to the increase of new reported cases:

Jefferson County has seen the highest number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in the past week than in any other week since the pandemic began. Some of the cases reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health over the weekend partially skewed the weekly count higher because of a backlog of previously unreported cases, but since then we have continued to have high numbers of new cases reported for Jefferson County. While there has been some increase in testing, the percentage of tests that were positive increased during this past week compared to the week before.

We need everyone’s help to keep this from getting out of control and once again threatening to overwhelm our hospitals. If you are a young and healthy person and contract COVID-19, your chances of being hospitalized or dying are low. Even so, as you make personal decisions about going shopping, going out to eat, or otherwise interacting with other people, carefully consider who else you might be putting at risk, especially those who might be at higher risk of serious complications.

There was quite a bit of confusion several days ago about a statement made by Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization. Some took her statement to mean that people without symptoms of COVID-19 rarely spread the disease. That statement was taken out of context, and was later walked back and clarified. It is the clear consensus of experts that people infected with COVID-19 can spread the infection to others during a “pre-symptomatic” period of time. In other words, people infected with COVID-19 can spread it to others before they develop any symptoms of the disease themselves, especially 1 to 3 days before they develop symptoms. This is believed to be responsible for a significant amount of COVID-19 spread.

Now as much as ever, everyone is urged to continue taking these precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

Measures needed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 are as follows:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.
  • Stay home if you are sick, except to get tested or to seek medical care for serious symptoms.
  • Use cloth face coverings when in public.
  • Do not touch your face, and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching surfaces others may have touched.

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