Mayor, state health officer provide Montgomery COVID-19 update

Montgomery mayor urges virus precautions during holiday

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris took part in a news conference Tuesday evening to update Montgomery residents on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reed said Montgomery could reach around 1,700 more cases of the disease by the end of November, noting that it would mark a 23 percent increase in cases for the city.

"We are still in the middle of a pandemic and there are things that we are going to have to do, " Reed said.

He also expressed concern that the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays may lead to outbreaks, and he urged families to keep gatherings small and to be proactive in their efforts to prevent the disease’s spread by using face masks and washing hands. He even suggests having a gathering outside if possible.

Harris echoed those concerns, saying he had apprehension about the upcoming holidays and added that his own family has decided not to hold large gatherings this year.

He said it’s known that when people get together, there’s a risk of disease transmission, and he noted that the state’s mask mandate brought a steady decrease in the number of cases up until the last few weeks.

The state health officer attributes the uptick to gatherings across the state and said holidays bring together people from different areas and different generations.

Harris urged residents to take great consideration for seniors who are most susceptible.

Reed said Montgomery’s hospitals are seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients but that hospital administrators say their occupancy rates are not a chief concern at the moment.

Medical experts feel Montgomery’s hospitals are in a better place now than they were during the last spike, but other hospitals across the state are showing signs of stress.

The CDC has listed factors that contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at small, in-person gatherings including:

  • Location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.·
  • Duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine·
  • Number and crowding of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.·
  • Behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Individuals who did not consistently adhere to social distancing(staying at least 6 feet apart), mask-wearing, handwashing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than those who consistently practiced these safety measures.·
  • Behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more safety measures in place, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. The use of alcohol or drugs may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says do not host or participate in any in-person gatherings

Copyright 2020 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.