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COVID-19 cases on the rise in Dallas County

A number of new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Dallas County, which had held strong at around 14 cases for several days, Wednesday – by Thursday morning, 21 cases of the disease were being reported, as well as two deaths, out of 230 total tests.

Wednesday’s increase marks a significant change for the county, as local leaders on a Selma-Dallas County Coronavirus Community Coalition press call earlier in the week were celebrating the fact that the pandemic had taken a minimal toll locally.

During that call, Vaughan Regional Medical Center (VRMC) CEO David McCormack reported that the local hospital had treated 11 COVID-19 patients, five of which were from neighboring Wilcox County, and had three patients in the hospital and three ventilators in use.

“The spike in coronavirus cases in Dallas County on [Wednesday] was very alarming,” said Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn. However, this is in line with the health experts whom are stating that this week and next week will be bad for Alabama. [The state] is predicted to reach its peak on April 22, but we cannot say with certainty that this is the date for Dallas County to reach its peak.”

Dallas County’s rise in cases occurred as the state confirmed nearly 4,250 cases Thursday, with more than 120 reported deaths.

Compared to nearby Montgomery County, which as of Thursday was reporting nearly 190 cases and five deaths, Dallas County, as well as the majority of the Black Belt, are seeing relatively low numbers of the disease.

In other neighboring and nearby counties, rates of COVID-19 have remained low throughout the pandemic – as of Thursday, Perry County had only seven confirmed cases of the disease and Wilcox County had 38 cases, while Lowndes and Marengo counties were both hovering at just under 25 cases – but many worry that a lack of testing in Alabama’s Black Belt, which is home to some of the state’s most vulnerable populations, is the reason for the low case count.

In Dallas County, 230 tests have been administered, which means that currently nearly 10 percent of those tested

For her part, Dallas County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Toya Stiles expects for more cases to be reported over the coming days and weeks.

“I don’t think people really understand the seriousness of this virus,” Stile said. “If people do not wear proper PPE, the virus could easily spread. I do see an increase in numbers in the next few days.”

Stiles encouraged citizens to wear and mask and gloves whenever out in public, adding that gloves should be removed when returning to a vehicle and should not be worn all day – gloves worn all day pickup and spread germs just as easily as uncovered hands.

Most importantly, Stiles noted, people should wash their hands regularly and stay home as much as possible.

Nunn agreed, adding that locals must keep in mind the toll being paid across the community.

“This is a killer virus as we have seen in Dallas County,” Nunn said. “Although we are struggling as a county during this crisis, we must forget the two families mourning the death of their loved ones who died as a result of this killer virus.”