DeKalb COVID-19 risk level increases to ‘moderate’

DeKalb County had achieved “low risk” status for new cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus in mid-August, but on the most recent color-coded map from the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the county was elevated to “moderate risk”.

The color-coded state map displays four risk levels: very high, high, moderate and low indicated in red, orange, yellow and green, respectively. When a county is shown in green, it does not mean the public should resume their pre-pandemic activities; the green color just indicates a lower comparative risk in this ongoing process.

“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of Alabamians by giving guidance based on the best science and public health practices available,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “We will continue to maintain and update the statewide data and metrics and provide consistent localized data for use in local decision-making for reopening plans.”

Within moderate risk areas, ADPH advises everyone to avoid groups of more than 50 people, keep 6-foot distances from people outside your household, check for fever or other symptoms before team games and practices, consider holding online worship services rather than in-person and limit interaction between children at playgrounds and other public places. Alabama remains under a mask mandate until October 2.

The map is updated weekly on Fridays and measures trends across three metrics: Declining new cases, decline in the percentage of positive tests and testing goals met, plus the number of visits to emergency rooms and urgent care clinics for COVID-like symptoms.

The trends for DeKalb County as of Sept. 11, measuring these figures over the previous seven to 13 days, shows a downward trajectory of new cases. If the trend continues, coupled with the other statistics, the county will return to low risk status. Cherokee County is now considered orange or high risk, Etowah County is also considered moderate risk and Marshall and Jackson counties are ranked as low risk.

The numbers reflect ongoing trends from week to week rather than assessing how much progress has been made overall since July 18, when new cases peaked statewide. More accurately, the map indicates the overall direction a county is headed in by what’s happening during only the preceding 14 days.

As of noon Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Alabama has reached 140,160 cases with 2,387 fatalities, according to the ADPH COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.

The state saw 8,879 new cases from 82,057 tests conducted in the last 14 days. For comparison sake, on August 14 the statistics showed 16,459 new cases during the preceding 14 days, which is not quite half the number of brand new cases a month later into the pandemic.

Based on a reduction in telephone call volume, ADPH has discontinued the COVID-19 24/7 Hotline for testing site information. Information about available testing sites and hours of operation statewide remains available on the general COVID-19 hotline at 800-270-7268 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., seven days a week. The COVID-19 general information e-mail address is covid19info@adph.state.al.us.

Statewide, 15,756 hospitalizations since March 13 are now attributed to the coronavirus, and ADPH estimates 54,223 cases are presumed recoveries. Inside DeKalb County, ADPH now reports 2,160 cases of infection (the cumulative count was 1,870 a month ago). The state health department has attributed 17 deaths in the county as being caused by coronavirus infection. In the last 14 days, 78 positive cases have been detected as a result of 1,030 tests conducted locally (this figure was 245 positive cases as of August 14).

To view the color-coded map, visit https://arcg.is/045191.

For more information about symptoms of the coronavirus and when to seek medical care, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

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