Coronavirus

As COVID Cases Creep Up, Health Officials Advise Watching Local Levels

Coronavirus illustration. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Federal health officials have moved three northeast Alabama counties out of the COVID community low-risk category into a medium-risk level. The counties are Madison, Jackson and Limestone.

The move comes after state health officials have watched the average number of statewide COVID cases grow from 100 a day around the first of May with a 2.5% positivity rate to 400 cases per day with a 9.4% positivity rate this week.

The positivity rate is the percent of tests that came back positive over the past 14 days.

“We are trending up, but there have not been any significant jumps,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield of the Alabama Department of Public Health. “We have not seen any dramatic changes.”

But, he added, there will be other Alabama counties moved to medium as cases in the Northeast increase and move toward the Great Lakes.

“We are watching and waiting,” he said.

Jefferson County averaged a bit more than 70 cases per day in the past week and also has a positivity rate of 9.4%, according to Health Department data. The county has had 186,629 COVID cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 and 2,374 deaths.

The state has reported 1,307,883 cases of COVID in the state over the past two years with 19,645 deaths.

Stubblefield warned that there have been late summer peaks in COVID cases for the past two years. Omicron peaked in January, so immunity from that virus may be waning. Plus, there are ever-changing virus variants.

Stubblefield said people should watch for their county or community’s designation. If a county or community is designated red, it is time to wear masks indoors.

“Pay attention, green designations mean you can wear a mask if you want to,” he said.

“What we need to focus on now is that our loved ones are or could be at risk. We could be at risk. Know your risk then make your decisions based on your risk and the people you are around.”