Opelika March

More than 200 people attended a march for Black Lives Matter in downtown Opelika on Saturday afternoon.

The threat of COVID-19 remains high in Alabama despite people beginning to gather in large groups to protest the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd.

There were 18,075 confirmed cases in Alabama as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, of which, 5,824 were confirmed in the past two weeks, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

As Alabama’s COVID-19 cases continue to grow at a large rate, local hospital officials are concerned of its spread during these rallies and other large group gatherings.

“COVID-19 is still in our community and Alabama’s percentage of new cases continues to be among the highest in the country,” John Atkinson, spokesperson for East Alabama Medical Center, said. “As a result, we consider any mass gatherings where people cannot practice social distancing to be of concern.”

Atkinson said the hospital hopes that anyone with symptoms is staying at home and quarantining themselves rather than going out to public places, including participating in large group gatherings.

However, people can have COVID-19 and not be showing any symptoms at the time. This is part of the reason why EAMC is encouraging people to wear masks in public, but hospital officials know not everyone is taking their advice.

“While masks are strongly encouraged when people venture out to stores, churches, protests or other mass gatherings, we know that not everyone is doing that,” Atkinson said.

“And while it appears COVID-19 is not transmitted on surfaces as much as originally thought, it’s certainly still a concern when people are out in public if they are not practicing good hand hygiene.”

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus per day in the east Alabama area has slowed.

There was one new case confirmed in Chambers County, zero in Lee County, one in Macon County, zero in Russell County and zero in Tallapoosa County as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, according to ADPH.

There were 356 total confirmed cases Chambers County, 548 in Lee County, 84 in Macon County, 172 in Russell County and 427 in Tallapoosa County as of 4:30 p.m. Monday.

EAMC hopes that this trend in new confirmed COVID-19 cases continues in the coming weeks.

“Our community has done a great job of helping us slow the spread of COVID-19; we just ask for everyone to continue the safety measures that allowed us to see the improvements in this region,” Atkinson said.

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