Number of confirmed COVID cases in county still rising
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Despite a statewide mandatory face mask order issued July 15 by Gov. Kay Ivey, the number of COVID-19 cases across the county and state continue to climb.
Alabama Department of Public Health officials announced in an update after release of the department’s twice-weekly report of Tuesday, July 21, that 13 people have now lost their lives to the novel coronavirus.
ADPH also reported that Escambia County now has 676 confirmed cases, up 105 from the 571 reported July 17. The number of active cases is not available. The total specimens collected in the county increased to 4,024 from the 3,716 reported July 17, and ADPH now reports that 13 county residents have died as a result of the virus.
Both local hospitals reported sharp increases in positive cases among specimens collected.
Atmore Community Hospital reported 335 confirmed cases, up from the July 17 total of 268. ACH has collected 1,596 samples, with 1,188 negative results, 71 tests still pending, and two tests that were inconclusive for COVID-19.
At Brewton’s D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, the number of confirmed cases increased from 66 to 81. DWM has collected 697 specimens, of which 529 have tested negative. Results were pending for 82 specimens, and five samples gave inconclusive results.
According to figures released by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Atmore Nursing Center had 29 residents and 18 staff members who had tested positive through July 5, the most recent data available. At West Gate Village in Brewton, CMS reported that 32 residents and 16 staff members had tested positive through July 5.
Health officials have blamed some of the sudden numerical increase on a backlog at labs where samples are sent for testing.
Gov. Ivey’s mask order went into effect July 16, requiring that masks or face coverings be worn in public by anyone interacting within 6 feet of people from separate households, in any indoor space open to the public, in any vehicle operated by a transportation service and in any outdoor space where 10 or more people are gathered.
Most local businesses and government entities have adhered to the mask mandate for customers, but many individuals have continued to ignore the order. Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported Tuesday (July 21) that no citations have been issued by his department for violations of the executive order.
Elsewhere, new restrictions have been imposed at both centers of local government.
Only one person is allowed in the lobby of Atmore City Hall at one time, and non-invasive thermal temperature screenings are now required for all employees and all citizens doing essential business at the Escambia County Satellite Office Building in Atmore and the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton.
Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above (Fahrenheit) — or 38 degrees Celsius — will not be allowed access to either county building.
The lobby of West Escambia Utilities remains closed, although drive-through service is available for bill payments.