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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: 514171

Reported Deaths: 10285
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34920557
DeSoto33270432
Hinds32652642
Jackson24876391
Rankin22516404
Lee16366245
Madison14932283
Jones14129247
Forrest13785260
Lauderdale12279324
Lowndes11314193
Lamar10663140
Pearl River9720244
Lafayette8855143
Hancock7839132
Washington7553169
Oktibbeha7216138
Monroe7036179
Pontotoc7003109
Warren6872178
Panola6768135
Neshoba6732210
Marshall6686142
Bolivar6451151
Union640898
Pike5933156
Alcorn5887107
Lincoln5533136
George510380
Prentiss505385
Tippah492783
Itawamba4857107
Scott478199
Adams4771125
Tate4765117
Leflore4736144
Copiah457095
Yazoo456692
Simpson4554117
Wayne443172
Covington434695
Sunflower4315106
Marion4279112
Coahoma4238109
Leake414090
Newton395782
Tishomingo384894
Grenada3777109
Stone365766
Jasper340866
Attala338790
Winston317892
Chickasaw316167
Clay312578
Clarke301295
Calhoun285949
Holmes271889
Smith269452
Yalobusha244247
Tallahatchie232053
Greene224749
Walthall221866
Lawrence219141
Perry213456
Amite209857
Webster206248
Noxubee188743
Montgomery181857
Carroll174941
Jefferson Davis173843
Tunica163339
Benton153139
Kemper145041
Choctaw136727
Claiborne134439
Humphreys132139
Franklin126029
Quitman107628
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845761

Reported Deaths: 16119
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161862004
Mobile742411381
Madison53315732
Shelby38351369
Baldwin38104589
Tuscaloosa36052641
Montgomery34492781
Lee25590263
Calhoun22598518
Morgan22459406
Etowah20026518
Marshall18790316
Houston17741425
St. Clair16904358
Limestone16153219
Cullman16067303
Elmore15912294
Lauderdale14991306
Talladega14209299
DeKalb12985269
Walker12067380
Blount10729192
Autauga10526157
Jackson10170194
Coffee9425192
Colbert9341208
Dale9024192
Tallapoosa7273201
Russell708865
Chilton7042170
Escambia6956143
Covington6943195
Franklin6338108
Chambers5785142
Marion5413130
Dallas5295209
Pike5123109
Clarke484886
Lawrence4831129
Winston4780110
Geneva4643136
Bibb434594
Barbour369980
Butler3439100
Marengo342393
Monroe337466
Randolph334867
Pickens333988
Fayette330085
Henry320766
Hale318489
Cherokee318363
Crenshaw260777
Washington256952
Cleburne254560
Lamar251953
Clay251169
Macon245064
Conecuh193162
Coosa185547
Lowndes178268
Wilcox177638
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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Columbus
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High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for the next few days. This will keep our area on the dry side and on the unseasonably warm side for this time of the year. We will see most high temperatures well into the 70s over the next few afternoons.
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