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Alabama Health Officials Encouraged by COVID-19 Numbers

Αssociated Press

Volunteers walk past boxes full of fruit and produce at a site where free food was distributed to residents of Alabama s Black Belt region in Selma, Ala., on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama health officials are encouraged by a decline in coronavirus cases a month after a statewide mask order.

State Health Officer Scott Harris says the numbers are improving but warned people shouldn’t abandon precautions heading into Labor Day gatherings and school openings.

The seven-day average number of daily cases has dropped below 1,000, after reaching 1,800 in mid-July. The number of hospitalized patients has dropped from about 1,600 to 1,400, and the percent of positive tests has dropped from 16.7% to 12.3%.

Harris encouraged people to keep wearing masks. He says the numbers may be declining because the surge of cases after the July 4 holiday has ended and the statewide mask order in July “played a role” in lowering the numbers.

Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who heads the Alabama Hospital Association, says the next concern is a possible spike when students return to schools and colleges and gather for the Labor Day weekend.

Williamson says while the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals has dropped, 89% of ICU beds are full.