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Alabama sees surge in virus cases among school-age children

Alabama is seeing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in school-age children, leading some schools to announce a temporary return to remote learning.

Posted: Aug 27, 2021 9:45 AM

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in school-age children, an increase officials say is likely fueled by the highly contagious delta variant and is causing some schools to temporarily switch to remote learning.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said Thursday that 5,571 children ages 5 to 17 were reported to have contracted COVID-19 last week. That compares to 702 cases in school-aged children during the same week last year, when more than half of students were studying remotely and the delta variant was not circulating.

State Health Officer Scott Harris pointed to the more contagious delta variant as “the most likely explanation.”

“The numbers are staggering,” Harris said of the increase. “We want to remind people that everyone needs to be vaccinated who is eligible, that is everyone 12 and up. We strongly recommend universal masking in schools.”

The numbers represent a seven-fold increase in cases over that timeframe last year, although hospitalizations and deaths in children remain relatively rare, according to state numbers.

Of the nearly 2,900 patients in state hospitals with COVID-19 on Thursday, fewer than 50 were children, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. State health officials have said about 6% of infected children develop the lingering symptoms known as “long COVID.”

Harris said a state dashboard that lists school cases should resume reporting Friday.

Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey said the number of schools implementing temporary remote learning is growing “every day and it is growing exponentially.”

“The delta variant is so much more contagious. It certainly has been more contagious among youth. We are seeing that,” Mackey said.

“We never anticipated there would be this kind of spike not in schools but a community-wide spike, that would hit the week we began to open school. It was the perfect storm,” Mackey said.

Lee, Cullman and Lawrence counties are among those that this week announced a temporary return to remote learning for some individual schools.

Cullman County Superintendent Shane Barnette said five schools in that system will switch to remote learning for the next two weeks. The decision came after one-third of students there were absent either because they tested positive for COVID-19 or were in quarantine because of being in close contact with someone who did.

“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is the number one priority in our school district,” Barnette said.

Shelby County Schools on Thursday announced the system would begin requiring masks to be worn in schools. State officials have left decisions on masks to local systems.

Superintendent Lewis Brooks wrote to parents that the move, “gives us the best chance to stay in school without a complete shutdown."

Mackey urged parents to be patient.

“These are challenging times for teachers and principals. We know that it is frustrating for them and for parents, but parents just need to be patient. We’ll get through this difficult spike,” Mackey said. He also urged people to talk to their medical provider about getting vaccinated to slow the spread and “not have another spike.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500709

Reported Deaths: 9977
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34312538
DeSoto32080403
Hinds31924627
Jackson24482379
Rankin21983390
Lee15530235
Madison14574280
Jones13838242
Forrest13447251
Lauderdale11985316
Lowndes11030188
Lamar10508135
Pearl River9503237
Lafayette8547139
Hancock7728126
Washington7422157
Oktibbeha7142131
Monroe6769176
Warren6682176
Pontotoc6659102
Neshoba6635206
Panola6520131
Marshall6462134
Bolivar6313148
Union602494
Pike5817152
Alcorn5667101
Lincoln5433135
George496779
Scott472698
Tippah469081
Prentiss466881
Leflore4657144
Itawamba4633105
Adams4586119
Tate4584110
Copiah448592
Simpson4445116
Yazoo443987
Wayne439772
Covington428794
Sunflower4237105
Marion4225108
Coahoma4159104
Leake408288
Newton381679
Grenada3706108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359692
Attala331489
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay307976
Chickasaw299667
Clarke292494
Calhoun279346
Holmes267887
Smith263850
Yalobusha233747
Tallahatchie227151
Greene219048
Walthall218763
Lawrence212440
Perry205356
Amite205155
Webster202746
Noxubee186640
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171542
Carroll168838
Tunica159439
Benton148738
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132437
Humphreys129238
Franklin120028
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 817054

Reported Deaths: 15320
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1145501922
Mobile724601333
Madison52172694
Shelby37533348
Baldwin37192547
Tuscaloosa35044606
Montgomery34067734
Lee23195245
Calhoun22205476
Morgan20754376
Etowah19811497
Marshall18317302
Houston17345411
St. Clair15983339
Cullman15383292
Limestone15298198
Elmore15161284
Lauderdale14225294
Talladega13802276
DeKalb12622260
Walker11162369
Blount10162175
Autauga9954146
Jackson9844182
Coffee9195191
Dale8880185
Colbert8826201
Tallapoosa7071198
Escambia6764130
Covington6699183
Chilton6627161
Russell627959
Franklin5955105
Chambers5567142
Marion4982126
Dallas4936200
Clarke474583
Pike4722105
Geneva4566126
Winston4502103
Lawrence4296117
Bibb424086
Barbour356676
Marengo337789
Monroe331463
Randolph328763
Butler325696
Pickens315682
Henry311965
Hale311088
Cherokee301760
Fayette291879
Washington251351
Cleburne247360
Crenshaw244375
Clay241768
Macon232363
Lamar222047
Conecuh185853
Coosa179739
Lowndes174564
Wilcox167939
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132738
Greene126644
Choctaw88127
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More high pressure will move back into our area overnight and into our Friday. This high pressure will bring back into our area some more dry and seasonable weather for a few days.
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