Montgomery, Alabama (AP) – Will Boyd was at a funeral Saturday morning for a relative who died after contracting for a new coronavirus when they called him with the news. His brother also passed away from COVID-19.
“The virus is real. It’s real. If they don’t know that it’s real, they can come and take a walk with me to the cemetery, ”Boyd said of the skeptics.
In Alabama and in much of the Deep South, there has been an increase in the number of cases of coronavirus, as some of them have stopped paying attention to warnings about the virus, causing anxiety among healthcare workers and people who have lost loved ones due to COVID-19. Over the past two weeks, Alabama has had the second largest number of new cases per capita in the country. South Carolina was fourth. Louisiana and Mississippi were also in the top ten.
“We are extremely concerned about these numbers. We know that if they continue, we will see more hospitalizations and more deaths, ”said Alabama Health Officer Scott Harris.
As of Saturday, more than 29,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Alabama, with more than a quarter of cases recorded in the past two weeks.
The combination of pre-existing health conditions and limited access to medical care in the region, as well as foci of public skepticism about the recommendations of health officials regarding this disease make it difficult to fight the virus.
Dr. Selvin Vickers, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of UAB, said that in the south there are high rates of diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure – all diseases that put people at risk of worse outcomes when using COVID-19.
But Vickers said that human behavior is the most difficult aspect of the fight against this disease.
“When you open doors and look at beaches, you look at restaurants and cities that prefer not to wear masks, or people who don’t do this … I would say that our behavior creates the biggest problem for us,” said Vickers .
Vickers said people who would not wear a mask for their own protection should “think about worrying about infecting someone else.”
Rep. Merika Coleman wants people to heed warnings.
Her extended family came to Alabama from across the country for a funeral in March – a time when there were few cases of coronavirus in the state – and used this time to remember, laugh and cry. In the following weeks and months, 11 family members tested positive for COVID-19, and five, including the three who attended the meetings, died from the disease.
“Our family will not be the same. … I do not want this to be anyone else. I don’t want anyone else to feel the same way I did. “I don’t want anyone else to go through what my family has experienced,” Coleman said.
Coleman said that she could not believe that the large crowds that she saw on Memorial Day were from photographs on social networks on the beach and even in its environs.
“What bothers me now is that people are working as if the COVID has been canceled, as if it is no longer there,” she said.
Kira Porter, who has lost three members of her eastern family from Alabama due to COVID-19, is experiencing the same concerns.
Her father, sister and cousin all died during the week this spring. They were buried that day.
Porter said her family was early on at risk for coronavirus by taking precautions and praying for the people of China. In any case, the virus found them.
When her father and sister went to the hospital, they were immediately isolated, and the family never spoke to them again. They did not even have the opportunity to say goodbye on the phone.
“This is the most painful part,” Porter said. “We never had the opportunity to take their hand, say goodbye and say that we love them.”
In May, Alabama allowed businesses and restaurants to open. Harris said that in his opinion, people who, for obvious reasons, longed for a return to normal, did not take sufficient precautions. He said that a big upswing in business was taking place a few weeks after meetings on Memorial Day, and that wearing a mask continued to seem like a blow or a pass.
“We continue to interact daily with people who think we have created some kind of deception for some vile purpose,” said Harris.
Dr. Don Williamson, a former state sanitary doctor who currently leads the Alabama Hospital Association, says hospitals are currently running, but trends are worrying.
“This is the first day you hear me say these words: now I’m worried,” Williamson said. “I am concerned that the virus is ahead of us now, and we are not doing enough to contain it.”
Williamson said that only about 16% of the total number of ICU beds are empty, and in some areas, such as Montgomery, “we have practically none.”
The new coronavirus caused disproportionate damage to colored people such as the Porter and Coleman families. African Americans make up 24% of the population of Alabama, but they account for 44% of state deaths from COVID-19.
According to Vickers, this factor was facilitated by numerous factors, including pre-existing conditions, access to primary health care, housing density and occupations that prevent work at home.
The capital of Alabama, Montgomery, became a hot spot for transferring the community, prompting the mayor to issue an order requiring a mask in public places. This measure failed in an equal vote when it was passed by the Montgomery City Council, as some members expressed concern about the infringement of personal freedoms.
Porter and Coleman said that people should not think that this cannot happen to them.
“It hit almost half of our family and killed three,” Porter said.