Coronavirus hospitalizations and new cases level off; UAB expert touts effectiveness of masks
There are glimmers of good news in Alabama’s coronavirus numbers for the first time in several weeks, and a high profile infectious disease expert at UAB Hospital credits increased wearing of masks as a big factor.
According to BamaTracker, the number of people being hospitalized each day due to COVID-19 has leveled off in the last week, and the seven-day average of new cases has decreased from a high of 1,851 per day to just under 1,600.
The decrease in numbers comes after Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide mask mandate has been in effect for two weeks.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases, was asked during a videoconference on Wednesday whether the governor’s mask mandate has affected Alabama’s numbers.
“The answer is yes,” she replied.
“I think right now we’re at a precariously stable point,” she added later in response to a question about hospitalizations.
Ivey extended the mask order for the entire month of August on Wednesday morning.
Marrazzo commented that more wearing of masks was good “particularly so we can keep businesses open.”
“None of us want to go back to the draconian world of everything being shut down,” she added.
In contrast to the positive sign of declining case numbers, the portion of Alabama’s coronavirus tests coming back positive hovers around 18%, which remains troubling to experts.
“That is very, very, very high,” advised Marrazzo on the positivity rate.
The national average for positivity percentage of tests is currently 7.8%, according to the medical school at Johns Hopkins University.
Thursday, 65 of the state’s 67 counties reported a new positive COVID-19 test.
The number of Alabamians being hospitalized each day has stayed steady somewhere in the mid 190s for the last week, a figure that is still worryingly high to healthcare professionals, but for the first time since the early days of July, it is not increasing.
The state of Alabama only had 12% of its intensive care unit (ICU) beds available on Wednesday.
As of Thursday morning, Alabama has averaged over 20 deaths from the virus every day for the last week.
The total death toll in the state is now 1,516, with 49 more that are probable but have not yet been confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“So much is going to happen, or be determined by what happens, in the next seven to 14 days,” Marrazzo said of Alabama’s numbers.