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VERIFY: Is more testing causing the rise in Alabama's COVID-19 numbers?

More testing is being done, but the percentage of positive cases is rising more
Credit: WZDX

Alabama is seeing a rise on COVID-19 cases.

You asked us if this is just because more testing is being done, so we looked into this claim.

Now, this rise doesn't mean that there is a new higher number every day. But over the past two weeks, and the last week especially, the state has seen an upward trend in cases.

Testing continues - the numbers vary by day - but more of those cases are positive than earlier in the pandemic. 

What's happening?

We looked to the Alabama Dept. of Public Health and Thrive Alabama for answers.

Using the Alabama Dept/ of Public Health's Daily Case Characteristics charts, we looked at state-wide testing numbers for the last 12 days.

From June 4 - June 10, 33,535 tests were performed, and there were 2,553 positive cases, for a positive percentage of 7.6%.

From June 11 - June 16, 26,581 tests were performed, and there were 4,050 positive tests, for a positive percentage of 15.24%.

Thrive Alabama, which has provided COVID-19 testing to the public since March 20, says that in that time, their testing has yielded 3% positive test results, but positive results jumped to 14% last week.

That's fine, but what about my county?

Again, using information from the Alabama Dept. Public Health COVID-19 Data & Surveillance Dashboard, we can look at those positive percentages.

In Madison County, there are 577 cases total, with 230 (39.8%) of those in the last 14 days.

20,823 people have been tested in Madison County, with 5,424 (26%) of those tests in the last 14 days.

The percentage of positive tests is rising faster than the number of tests.

This is true for some surrounding counties as well.

Morgan County:
Cases: 664 cases total, 366 (55%) in the last 14 days
Tests: 6,903 tests total, 2,941 (42%) in the last 14 days

Limestone County:
Cases: 236 cases total, 129 (54%) in the last 14 days
Tests: 3,124 tests total, 809 (25%) in the last 14 days

Why is this happening?

During news conferences on Monday, June 16, officials with Crestwood Hospital, ADPH - Morgan County, and UAB all pointed to the same things:

  • Lack of masks/face coverings
  • Gathering in large groups without social distancing

They stressed the importance of wearing a mask or face covering when you're in places where you can't be assured of social distancing and remembering to wash your hands frequently and not touch your face.

The claim that higher case numbers are just because of more testing?


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