U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams speaking in Hoover on Friday said Alabama is the only state on the White House’s COVID-19 map that’s in red, but that also has all the parameters moving in the right direction.
Adams was speaking at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, one of three new COVID-19 testing sites in Jefferson County. Another is located at the Cathedral of the Cross Church in Center Point and the third at the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service Logistics Center.
The tests are free and open to anyone, but before driving to one of the sites, the public is asked to first sign up for a test by visiting www.doineedacovid19test.com. Samples at both sites are the less invasive nasal swabs, taken from just inside a person’s nose rather than far in the back of the nasal cavity.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services categorized the Birmingham metro area as a COVID-19 hotspot, and along with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Jefferson County Department of Health organized the three mass testing sites.
The Hoover site began testing Friday, while the Center Point and Tuscaloosa sites will do so on Aug. 24. All three are to remain open for two weeks.
Adams credited Gov. Kay Ivey’s statewide mask order as the reason for the state’s improving COVID-19 numbers, and said although the percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive in Alabama are still too high – it was 12 percent on Thursday – it’s been steadily decreasing. Alabama tested more than 62,000 people for COVID-19 last week, which puts the state into the green zone in that category, Adams said, and hospitalizations have been coming down as well.
“Reject the false dichotomy out there. Don’t let politics seep into how you view public health,” Adams said during the press conference.
“All it takes is one group of people deciding to have a party. One group of people deciding to have barbecue and that can become a cluster, which turns into an outbreak, which turns into greater community spread, and we don’t have college football in the fall,” Adams said.
Asymptomatic people with COVID-19 are driving the pandemic in the U.S., Adams said.
“Please take advantage of this huge opportunity we have over the next two weeks to get a lot of people tested,” said Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County’s Health Officer, speaking during the press conference. The two sites have the ability to test up to 60,000 people in the two weeks time, he said.
Alabama State Health officer Dr. Scott Harris said during the press conference that the state’s numbers are looking better but that now is no time to back off from wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.
“A lot of clouds on the horizon as we try to negotiate kids returning to school and college kids returning to campus,” Harris said.