Tag: Alabama Department of Public Health
Social distancing has taken a backseat to social statements the past week as persons have assembled in large numbers to protest the death of George Floyd and to call for change.
But state health officials worry that the combination of crowds and the coronavirus could greatly amplify COVID-19 cases in Alabama and the U.S. They urge people to remain mindful of social distancing, hygiene and face covering recommendations as they assemble.
Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said she and others in her department are deeply concerned and saddened about the death of George Floyd. And they say persons have the right to peaceful assembly to express their individual and collective opinions.
“But we do remain concerned when there’s a congregate group of any size for any reason, and social distancing measures are not taking place,” Landers said. “It concerns me as a physician to see people that are in large groups that aren’t taking any measures.” Read more.
Acknowledging the balancing act between protecting the health of citizens and the health of the economy, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson on Friday expressed concern about the state’s relaxing of restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Wilson did not issue a new emergency order for the county, but he issued a strong recommendation that people in Jefferson County refrain from having public gatherings of greater than 10 people, including worship services, for at least another two weeks after this weekend. He said he wants to see the effect of the governor’s new order.
The new Proceeding With Caution order, which Gov. Kay Ivey announced Friday morning, allows restaurants, bars, athletic facilities and close-contact service providers such as nail salons and barber shops to reopen starting Monday. It also lifts the 10-person cap on non-work gatherings, but it stresses that people must maintain six feet between themselves and others from different households while in public. The new order expires May 22.
“We’re going to be opening a lot of things,” he said. “I’m very concerned that we could start to see an increase in disease.”
He wasn’t the only voice calling for caution as the state starts to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Other health care officials and government leaders expressed concern, most of them saying they also understand the need to get people back to work. Read more.
As the coronavirus spreads worldwide and the number of confirmed cases in the United States increases, the state’s top health official says Alabama is in a “prevention stance” and encourages Alabamians to prepare for this virus like they do the flu.
“This is a situation that is changing very quickly,” Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told Alabama Daily News on Thursday.
Since the outbreak was first reported in China in late 2019, the Alabama Department of Public Health has monitored more than 100 Alabamians who have returned from China and other places the virus is known to be, Harris said.
That monitoring includes making daily phone calls to check on the individuals and encouraging “social distancing,” avoiding large crowds and public places.
Harris this week sent the state’s universities and colleges letters with guidance about limiting for at least 14 days public interactions for anyone returning from China or any other country with active community transmission.
A few of the Alabamians being monitored have presented coronavirus symptoms, which are similar to flu symptoms, but no one has tested positive for the new disease, referred to as COVID-19.
Harris said Alabamians should be aware of the developing situation, “There is no need to be afraid, since we don’t have community transmissions in our state.” Read more.