MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama reported more than 2,200 new coronavirus cases Thursday— the highest single-day increase in cases — as health officials cautioned it will take a few weeks to see the effect of a statewide mask order.
The spike came after several days of declining case numbers and as a number of school systems announced students will not immediately return to classrooms this fall.
The state topped more than 2,000 daily cases for the third time and is now averaging about 1,700 new cases reported each day.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week announced an order requiring face masks in public places. State health officials have cautioned it will take a few weeks to see any effect on case numbers.
“For the effects of masking, at least two weeks would be necessary, but three would be best,” State Health Officer Scott Harris wrote in a reply to The Associated Press.
Since the pandemic began, more than 72,000 people in the state have tested positive for the coronavirus with nearly one-third of cases being reported in the last two weeks. More than 1,300 people have died, according to numbers from the state health department.
Alabama on Wednesday reported more than 50 additional deaths from COVID-19 patients. However, Harris said that spike is partly related to the state being able to work through a backlog.
“That said, we have more inpatients than ever in hospitals and so deaths will be increasing,” Harris said.
More than 1,500 people with COVID-19 were in state hospitals Wednesday.
School systems are making their own decisions about whether to hold in-person classes, distance learning or a combination approach when the school year begins. Several Alabama school systems announced this week that students will not immediately return to classrooms.
Birmingham City, Montgomery County, Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County are among the school districts that have announced students will do remote learning for the beginning of the year.
Mobile County, the state’s largest school system, had already announced it would virtual classes for the first part of the year.