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New coronavirus cases down, local officials urge families to plan for school return

Pleasant Grove Elementary BW 03.JPG

First day of school at Pleasant Grove Elementary on Aug. 13. Kids wait in the gym to be called to their classes. Photo by Bill Wilson

Calhoun County recorded just 17 new cases of coronavirus Sunday, continuing a decline in the spread of the virus here.

But with many K-12 schools and Jacksonville State University reconvening this week, the county’s emergency management director is urging people to make plans for what they’ll do if they become sick or get quarantined.

“We know that with school starting back, some people are going to be affected by it,” EMA director Michael Barton said in a Facebook livestream Monday.

As of Monday morning, 1,936 people in Calhoun County had been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. By the state’s count, 21 people in the county have died of the virus, though local officials say the actual death toll may be as high as 30. 

Even so, numbers of new cases have been declining steadily for days. Barton said widespread mask use is likely a reason for that. State health officials imposed a mandatory mask order a month ago. Barton said local people have also become more willing to observe social distancing after the spread of the virus in July brought the issue closer to home.

“It went from numbers to names,” he said.

Barton said local officials expect more cases as the school year begins. He said people should make plans for how they will quarantine within their homes if just one member of the family has the illness. He said parents should talk with their children about the precautions they should take to avoid catching the virus at school.

Statewide, more than 104,000 people have contracted the virus and 1,855 have died.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.