MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — Health officials said Wednesday that the rise of COVID-19 cases in Alabama is a disturbing trend, but it’s not too late to keep patients from overwhelming the health care system.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said at Wednesday’s Madison County briefing that people need to concentrate on social distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing to keep the spread of coronavirus down.
“Without blunting this curve, our healthcare system is very likely to not be able to handle this into the winter season,” Landers said. “You have to remember, people are in hospitals for reasons other than COVID-19.”
Alabama has an 11.5 percent positive rate for COVID-19 testing, Landers said. Health officials would like to see it at about 5 percent, she said.
Colder weather is driving some of the increase, Landers said, as people move indoors and have more opportunities to be closer together. But she said a state epidemiologist looked at data from the last few weeks and determined that numbers also started going up around Halloween, when there were opportunities for people to be at parties and other close gatherings. Sporting events and some church gatherings also could be contributors, she said.
“I would urge that at this point in time we need to revisit our own individual activities,” Landers said. “We need to revisit the activities of our families in order to try to stay as safe as possible while we are awaiting the arrival of vaccines and the widespread usage of vaccines, which will not be until well into 2021.”
Landers said as Thanksgiving approaches, people should do their best to stay in small groups, preferably outside if the weather allows. She added that people should not prepare meals buffet-style; instead, plates should be prepared by one person if possible. And most importantly, Landers said, people should skip Thanksgiving if they feel sick.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley also spoke at Wednesday’s briefing and said that he mostly sees people out in the community taking precautions, but that people also have to consider the odds when making decisions that involve potential exposure.
“As an individual, you have control,” Finley said. “Not only that, I think you have a responsibility.”