MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – “We are still in a battle,” warned Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed Friday as he and Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris updated residents on the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reed stressed the need for residents to “rewind your habits” to where they were in March and urged people to stay home as much as possible or at least practice social distancing and wearing masks if out in public. While wearing a mask it not currently mandatory, Reed said the city council will take up the issue and must address how to ensure everyone has the ability to have a mask before moving forward.
The mayor pointed to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Alabama’s capital city and county as cause for concern. “We are still in a crisis,” he said, pointing to the city being among the state’s top five communities for increasing cases.
Mayor Reed: COVID-19 numbers still on rise
The number of cases month-over-month has jumped by 334 percent. In May there have been nearly 1,200 cases with 350 confirmed in just the last week.
Reed said there have been 38 deaths, including four since Thursday, and Montgomery accounts for more than six percent of all the state’s coronavirus-related deaths.
Dr. Scott Harris said he’s heard from some young people that they’re not really worried about the respiratory illness, and while he says that may be the case for most, Harris points out “you can give that disease to someone who will be seriously affected.”
Dr. Harris updates on latest COVID-19 numbers
The pandemic is also showing Alabama’s ongoing health disparities, with Harris adding that “many of these burdens fall most heavily on African Americans in our state.”
Harris also stated that while hospitals are stressed, they are still able to handle the situation.
“This is manageable, but it is not sustainable,” Reed added, saying that while the increase in cases is partly due to more testing, that shouldn’t mean the city is seeing more sick patients at area hospitals, which is the case.
Reed also warned that hospital workers are exhausted, both physically and emotionally and that they continue to deal with some gaps in personal protective equipment, or PPE, in the hospital setting.
“We must make smart decisions and reverse these numbers,” the mayor said. “The tide has not yet turned in this pandemic.”
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Montgomery County has seen 1,541 confirmed cases and 38 deaths since the pandemic started. There have been approximately 9,000 tests conducted in the county.
Gov. Ivey and Dr. Harris issued a stay at home order that started on April 4. The restrictions have been removed in phases starting on April 30. The current amended safer at home order was announced on May 21.