After an Alabama Safer at Home order, which was amended at the end of May and remains in effect until July 3, saw loosened restrictions and re-opened several businesses statewide, COVID-19 cases are on the rise.
In Alabama, the number of cases reported statewide grew from 21,071 cases last week to 26,524 cases by Wednesday morning, according to data provided by the Alabama Public Health Department.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, ADPH reported 66 confirmed cases in Lawrence County, which had grown by 10 cases since last week. Data showed at least 1,003 tests had been administered in Lawrence County, while 305,036 tests have occurred statewide.
Though Lawrence County had no reported deaths as of Wednesday, ADPH data recorded 779 deaths in Alabama as of Wednesday, with two of those occurring in neighboring Morgan County.
ADPH Area Administrator Judy Smith stressed last week the importance of individual responsibility in slowing the spread of the communicable disease and praised public officials who have taken steps to protect their communities in Northern Alabama.
“Now it’s time for the people to step up. The officials stepped up from the get-go. We’re in this together,” she said.
Following statewide closures in March, Lawrence County Commissioners closed county offices and the Administrative and Judicial Building to the public. Lawrence municipalities, including Courtland, Town Creek and Moulton took steps at their respective city halls as well.
Though the courthouse and city halls are reopened for public business, several county officials, including Revenue Commissioner Brad Henderson and Commission Chairman Bobby Burch, stress the option of paying fees and handling registration online or by mail if applicable.
“Those who need to renew vehicle registrations have three no-contact options that will also prevent them from having to stand in long lines in front of the courthouse,” Henderson said. “We have a dropbox at the front entrance of the building, customers may also mail their renewals in, or they can process them online.”
Moulton Mayor Weatherwax said utility and other payments are also accepted online or by mail.
Meanwhile, Smith said Alabama residents should continue to focus on social distancing and minimizing their exposure to others and warned that the situation could worsen at the start of flu season in the fall.
“This may be a new lifestyle we have. We have a new, very deadly virus,” she said. “In Alabama, we approach roughly 1,000 deaths every year from flu and pneumonia, and right now, we’re sitting at, in three months' time, almost 800 deaths and we don’t have a vaccine.”
Last month, health clinics in Lawrence and Morgan counties began test collections twice weekly, but as demand has increased each clinic also holds “overflow clinics” as needed week to week, Smith said.
Lawrence County Health Department began collecting samples from individuals who qualified for testing every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. as needed in early April.
Smith said individuals who seek testing in either county are still urged to call ahead for testing, but those collection sites have also expanded to individuals who may not necessarily be symptomatic.
Once results are received, Smith said each department calls test subjects with additional instructions based on their individual situations. She said tested individuals fall into three categories.
There is an incubation period thought to last 14 days with a median time of four to five days from exposure to the time symptoms begin to emerge, a quarantine expiration period when individuals are presumed recovered, and a small number of people, Smith said who may no longer be symptomatic but have not passed their quarantine date.
“Usually about two-thirds of folks, this is what we’re seeing, have passed the quarantine period. Another third, depending on how many you have tested recently are still in their quarantine period, and then certainly, we do count anybody that’s in the hospital, they’re automatically not considered recovered,” she said earlier this month. “Lawrence County has been very fortunate in that they have had no deaths at this point.”
According to ADPH data, 2,315 COVID-19 hospitalizations have occurred statewide since March 13. ADPH began reported “presumed recoveries” earlier this month, and listed 13,508 for the state as of Wednesday.
For more information or to inquire about testing in Lawrence County, call 256-974-1141. For those seeking testing in Morgan County, call 256-353-7021.
For daily updated statistics from ADPH, visit http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/index.html.