By Sidney Smith, Reporter
COVID-19 cases reported in Alabama are increasing at a rapid rate and setting records for new single-day cases over the past week.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo and Dr. Sarah Nafziger, leading UAB researchers in infectious disease and disaster medicine respectively, spoke to the media on Monday about the sudden spike in cases in Alabama.
The state now has 27,312 confirmed cases as of Thursday, with a fourth of it coming in the last two weeksaccording to Alabama public health data.
The public health experts said Alabamians have been living in conflict with what case numbers show.
“People are now going out, and unfortunately, forgetting that wearing a mask is an essential part of being able to re-enter society,” Marrazzo said.
Birmingham saw an all-time high in COVID-19 patients this week, as UAB is now
treating a total of 68.
Although UAB has the capacity to hold the current number of COVID-19 patients, Nafziger said as the numbers continue to increase, this could change.
“As these numbers creep up, we do have some concerns that maintaining that capability to provide routine services“ Nafziger said. ”It will become much more difficult.”
Nafziger said if Alabama stays on this course, UAB will have to expand their resources.
Nafzinger, an M.D. and professor of Emergency Medicine, reminded everyone that things can only improve if they follow safety guidelines.
“We have to wash our hands often. Avoid touching your eyes and face, don’t touch your nose and mouth” Nafziger said. “Wear a mask when you go into indoor public settings. And of course, social distancing.”
The doctor said that she knows people have grown weary of the messaging, but growing complacnet is the reason the case numbers have hit an all-time high.
”I know we are weary of that message. It’s getting old, for sure, it’s old for us to keep repeating it but it’s our new reality now,” she said.
Nafziger said by following these guidelines slows the spread of the infection and the only option left is to take swift action by being vigilant of the guidelines.
Alabama’s rise in cases can be linked to the state’s reopening earlier this month.
“The timing is pretty perfect,” Marrazzo said about the state opening back up.
“People are mixing more, people are letting their guard down,“ Marazzo said. ”People aren’t wearing masks and they’re mingling and creating more opportunity for the infection to spread.”
As far as a second wave, the expert in disease outbreaks said we never stopped having a first.
“Our numbers are not coming down,” Marazzo said. “In fact, people ask about a second wave here and I keep saying we never stopped having the first.”