Health officials on avoiding back-to-school disruptions with new COVID-19 surge
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Every county in the state now has a high or medium COVID-19 community transmission level. In the past seven days, nearly 11,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus in Alabama.
Rampant COVID-19 infections caused many school disruptions over the past few years and with cases steadily rising again, health experts are hoping we can get case counts under control before the start of school.
“The goal is to keep kids in seats and teachers in the classroom,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, ADPH District Medical Officer.
He says it’s the main goal for students, teachers, parents, and health officials. Even so, Dr. Stubblefield believes the COVID-19 activity could still be significant when school begins in about a month.
“We want school districts and school superintendents and school boards to be paying attention to those community levels, making sure they’re looking into that county and how it’s being affected,” he adds.
According to the ADPH COVID-19 dashboard, year to date, 464,115 people have officially been diagnosed in the state. That brings the overall total to 1,390,333.
The moving seven-day average now stands at 29.2%, meaning about one out of every three people tested for the virus come back positive.
“Where we were seeing some of our lowest numbers around maybe 100 cases per day, we’re up to about just average 2,000 cases per day,” said Dr. Stubblefield.
Jefferson County, like most counties in the state, is listed as having high community spread.
“We’re probably around 350-360 cases per day,” said Dr. Wesley Willeford, Disease Control Medical Director at the Jefferson County Health Department.
He says the coming school year should be different from years past.
“At this point, there’s a lot of things that we can do to control the spread of COVID-19,” he added. “Of course, the major thing is going to be the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines really for anyone 6 months and up... I think that’s really going to slow down a lot of the spread and make school logistics a lot easier.”
“At high community levels, indoor masking including K-12 is recommended,” said Dr. Stubblefield. “That is up -- in Alabama, up to each individual school district. Some school districts may decide to go back and do masks. Some may not, but that is the recommendation.”
Both Dr. Stubblefield and Dr. Willeford says the vaccine would be helpful in mitigating spread within schools and if you plan on vaccinating your child, to do it sooner rather than later so the vaccine is fully effective by the time school begins in a month.
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