AL health officials: Fall weather, activities factors in COVID-19 trends

Coronavirus

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — An uptick in the state’s mortality rate has health leaders pleading with the public to take precautions.

The positivity rate is also up and officials say there could be several reasons why. Yet, doctors say the bottom line is people still are not consistently taking precautions. Plus, as Fall sets in, so does everything that comes along with it– cooler weather, extracurricular activities for the kids and family gatherings.

This week, Alabama’s percent positivity rate is up and, according to Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Health, the mortality rate is still too high.

“Right now, we’re not seeing the highest numbers that we saw at the absolute peak of our activities in the summer but we still continue to lose Alabamians to COVID-19,” Dr. Landers said.

Landers explains there are still residents who don’t consistently follow the state’s prescribed standard precautions — socially distancing and wearing a face mask, above all.

“We know that as you have more people in crowds, more people have the opportunity to have contact and more opportunities for persons to be in closed-in spaces,” Dr. Landers said.

The doctor says that will be especially significant as the weather gets cooler, but already, we’re seeing more people indoors as kids settle back into school. Landers tells us the percent positivity rate for kids ages 5-17, by county, reflects what they’re seeing in adults. Plus, she says kids’ cases, statewide, account for eight percent. That’s up to one and a half percent since summer.

“I do think our schools are doing the best they can do to try to keep those students stay safe, keep those teachers safe and the staff members but, we have to remember that our kids go other places,” Dr. Landers explained.

According to health leaders, other places include extracurricular activities, community events and family gatherings.

In Jefferson County, health officers say the increase in the percent positivity rate also reveals young people, ages 25-49, are the most affected.

“I think there are a lot of things that could be contributing to it. I think the fatigue that people have been talking about may also be changing people’s behaviors a little bit, just because it does seem so daunting,” said Dr. Wesley Willeford with the Jefferson County Health Department.

That fatigue is something felt across the country. It’s essentially being tired of the mask wearing and social distancing and doctors say it could lead to a massive spike in cases, come the holidays.


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