COVID-19 cases trickling down as more Alabama schools cancel sports, move to virtual learning
Montgomery, Ala. - BamaTracker.com reported 1,123 new coronavirus cases for Alabama yesterday, the lowest report for the state since July 6. Four new COVID-19 related deaths brought the statewide death total to 1,580 since the pandemic began. The rate of transmission, which is defined as how many new infections come from a a single infection, is under one for the first time since early May. In other words, for every 1.00 new infection, only .93 infections are currently being transmitted -- a sign that the virus is possibly beginning to slow its spread. The 7-day average continues to fall as well; now at 7-day average of 1,542 cases, down from 1850 a few weeks ago. The confirmed number of statewide hospitalizations has also fallen by approximately 100 since its peak early last week.
The good news comes at a critical time as Alabama students return to school, and university administrators prepare for the lucrative college football season. AL.com reported last week that 27 school districts will open with virtual-only classes. Those districts make up about 30 percent of the statewide K-12 student body, or about 210,000 students.
In order to prevent academic drop-off, Governor Ivey announced last week the Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students program, which will commit $100 million in federal CARES Act funding to deliver free internet access to eligible families so they can participate in the distance learning. The money will be provided in the form of a voucher to help cover equipment and service costs for high-speed internet through December 31, 2020. More information can be found at https://abcstudents.org/
On the sports front, Greene, Barbour and Sumter counties were joined by Choctaw county high schools late last week in foregoing all fall sports this semester, including volleyball and football. Meanwhile, the SEC announced it will play a conference only schedule this fall, beginning on September 26 with the SEC Championship game scheduled for December 19. The late start is designed to see how the NFL performs in the first few weeks of September, as well as brace for any outbreaks as thousands of students from across the country make their way back to college campuses. A revised schedule, which will include 10 total games, will be announced in coming days.