DeKalb County officials reduce hours due to spike in COVID-19 cases


DEKALB COUNTY, Ala.- Dekalb County is now being considered one of the more high-risk counties in Alabama when it comes to COVID-19.

Because of a big spike recently, officials have decided once again to make some changes for county buildings.

Dekalb County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency director Anthony Clifton said the county is one of the fastest growing positive testing areas in the state.

“On the weekend IN June 19, we reported that week 34 new cases, Then suddenly on June 27, we had A report of 215 new cases. So, we jumped from 34 new cases being reported one week to 215 new cases the next ,which is a jump of 632%,” explained Clifton.

In order to limit exposure and give staff the chance to increase cleaning, the hours at Dekalb County buildings are being reduced from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the exception of those needing to absentee vote.

County employees will work regular hours, so appointments can be called in and made.

“We’re trying to keep that out of the vulnerable population, those that are over 65, those who have chronic disease, diabetes, heart problems, lung problems. We need to try to curtail this, not necessarily for those of us that are healthy, but for those that are not healthy, said Clifton.

The hour change will be in effect at least until the extended safer at home order ends but will rely on state guidance.

Right now, there’s not a mandatory mask-use ordinance in Dekalb County.

Clifton said he expected the state health officer to recommend one being put in place statewide, but he didn’t, so now they’re in a tight spot.

“We don’t want to get into a situation to where we put law enforcement in a place where they are trying to enforce an order that should be common sense,” said Clifton.

Commission president Ricky Harcrow said it is something they’ll consider if the numbers continue to rise.

“If these increases continue to increase, yes, we will take that into consideration very seriously. I’m very concerned about our older people and I want to encourage younger people to have responsible ideas and to do those things that are necessary to protect mother and daddy and grandmother and granddaddy and children,” said Harcrow.

Clifton says an increase in testing played a part in the high number of positive cases, but that the biggest reason for the spike is because people have become more relaxed and are not following Governor Kay Ivey or the public health officer’s recommendation to social distance and wear a face covering.

Clifton added that the majority of the new cases were in people in their 20s through 40s.

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