BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – A difference of a few hundred cases is the first sign the Jefferson County mask ordinance is working, said the county’s Medical Director of Disease Control.
“I’m hopeful this is indicative that the masks are having a good effect, that they’re having a positive impact on our number of cases,” said Dr. Wesley Willeford, Jefferson County Department of Health.
There were 2,000 cases of COVID-19 in Jefferson County for the week beginning July 17. Cases dropped to 1,700 for the week beginning July 19. There have been 100 fewer cases this week than the same time last week, according to data provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
Dr. Willeford admits it’s not a dramatic difference, but for the first time in 6 weeks, this data “is beginning to head in the right direction.”
“The only change that’s happened since June 28 has been the mask order and I think when you look at that and see the numbers start to trend down, you have to think the two are linked and I think that’s going to continue to be the case,” said Dr. Willeford.
Face coverings have been required in Jefferson County since June 28 and when County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson issued the mandate, he did not include an expiration date. Governor Kay Ivey issued a statewide order effective July 16, superseding the county order, and set it to end after two weeks.
“I think it’s too early to get rid of a mask ordinance at that point,” said Dr. Willeford.
He added, “When you compare... the fact that our weekly total is down and the state’s weekly total is down, I think that is at least a good indicator that we are beginning to head in the right direction. I think we will know very definitely in another month or so but right now I do take that as a positive trend.”
Dr. Wilson said in a Town Hall meeting hosting by WBHM that if Governor Ivey does not extend the statewide mask order, he will likely issue a new order in Jefferson County.