Studies show more COVID-19 cases in areas without school masking policies

September 28, 2021

Studies show more COVID-19 cases in areas without school masking policies

MOBILE, Ala. – The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has just released three studies in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that highlight the importance of using layered prevention strategies, including universal masking to stop the spread and minimize disruptions to school operations for safe in-person education.

These studies found that school districts without a universal masking policy in place were more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks. Nationwide, counties without masking requirements saw the number of pediatric COVID-19 cases increase nearly twice as quickly during this same period.

“Here is the data that shows how important face coverings are in helping to stem the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, Health Officer for Mobile County. “I want to thank the leadership of our school officials is helping to slow the transmission.”

One report from Arizona revealed that schools in two of the state’s most populous counties were 3.5 times more likely to have COVID-19 outbreaks if they did not have a mask requirement at the start of school compared with schools that required universal masking on day one. Universal masking is an important component in the recommended layered prevention strategy for schools, and this study continues to demonstrate that facemasks, when used as part of the larger strategy can reduce spread of COVID-19 and prevent outbreaks in schools.

Another report found that during the two weeks following the start of school, the average change in pediatric COVID-19 case rates was lower among counties with school mask requirements (16.32 per 100,000/day) compared with counties without school mask requirements (34.85 cases per 100,000/day). This highlights the impact that universal masking policies can have on the communities that surround these school districts, as the impact of the policies can reduce the burden on the health care systems that support these school districts.

A third report studied COVID-19-related school closures and found that despite an estimated 1,801 school closures so far this school year, 96 percent of public schools have been able to remain open for full in-person learning. The continued focus on providing students with a safe environment for in-person learning is one of the main priorities for CDC’s guidance and can be best achieved by following a layered prevention strategy.

These studies continue to demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of CDC’s Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools to help districts ensure safer in-person learning and stop the spread of COVID-19. Promoting vaccination of eligible persons, mask-wearing, and screening testing are all proven methods to continue to work towards the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MCHD making changes to COVID-19 clinic schedule

September 26, 2021

MCHD making changes to COVID-19 clinic schedule

MOBILE, Ala. – The Mobile County Health Department’s (MCHD) COVID-19 Response Team will be making changes to its clinic schedule starting next week.

Because of decreased demand and competing priorities, all COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at the Keeler Memorial Building (251 North Bayou Street in Mobile) will cease on Monday, September 27, until further notice.

The public can continue to get the Pfizer vaccine (for those 12 and older), the Moderna vaccine (for those 18 and older) or Johnson & Johnson vaccine (for those 18 and older) at MCHD’s Newburn Building (248 Cox Street in Mobile facing Saint Stephens Road). The weekday hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Vaccine is also available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Along with offering vaccine, the Newburn staff provides walk-in rapid testing during those same hours. Testing is free to all ages. Results are provided within 15 to 30 minutes while you wait. No appointments are necessary.

Individuals requesting a molecular test (Abbott ID Now) or a PCR test (through LabCorp) for personal preference or for travel must be tested at one of the Family Health locations. Appointments for these specific tests may be made by calling 251-690-8889.

For those wishing to make an appointment to receive COVID-19 vaccine, MCHD is now offering first-dose and second-dose Moderna vaccinations at several of its Family Health locations conveniently located throughout Mobile County. To secure a time to receive the shot, please call 251-690-8889.

To learn the latest on MCHD’s vaccine events, visit www.MCHDcares.com or call 251-410-MCHD (6243).

MCHD offers monoclonal antibody treatment at DIP Health Center

September 23, 2021

MCHD offers monoclonal antibody treatment at DIP Health Center

MOBILE, Ala. – Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, Health Officer for Mobile County, has announced that the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) is now offering subcutaneous injections of the monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 helps those at high risk for serious illness by building rapid immunity to the virus and preventing hospitalization. But these products are only for those at high risk for serious illness, individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or people who are close contacts of someone who tested positive.

The Dauphin Island Parkway Health Center (2601 Dauphin Island Parkway in Mobile) has been converted to serve as the central location for the mAb injections. MCHD and Family Health services previously offered at DIP have been moved to the Women’s Center and Eight Mile Health Center.

“MCHD is excited that we will begin giving subcutaneous mAb injections for COVID-19 positive persons,” he said. Subcutaneous means under the skin. In this type of injection, a short needle is used to inject a drug into the tissue layer between the skin and the muscle.

It is important to understand that post-exposure preventive monoclonal antibodies are not a replacement for vaccination.

“If you are not vaccinated, you need to get the vaccine as soon as you can,” Dr. Eichold said. “Everyone who is vaccinated needs to wear a mask when outside of their home.”

Post-exposure preventive mAb treatment should be considered for individuals who have been exposed and who are:

• High-risk for developing severe COVID-19; and,
• 12 years of age or older and weigh at least 88 pounds; and,
• Not fully vaccinated or vaccinated but immunocompromised or on immunosuppressive treatment

To begin the process of seeing if someone is eligible for mAb treatments, a client must first contact MCHD’s Central Appointments at 251-690-8889. A patient must have an appointment in order to enter the mAb treatment clinic at the DIP Health Center.

MAWSS reports Sanitary Sewer Overflow

September 23, 2021

MAWSS reports Sanitary Sewer Overflow

MOBILE, Ala. — Mobile Area Water & Sewer System (MAWSS) responded to a Sanitary Sewer Overflow on September 22 at 250 Tuttle Avenue. Approximately 1,192 gallons of wastewater overflowed as a result of a break on a sewer mainline.

Quick response by MAWSS crews enabled them to reclaim the wastewater that overflowed, preventing any wastewater from reaching state waters. MAWSS crews have repaired the broken mainline and are taking steps to prevent future overflows at this location.

Dr. Bernard H. Eichold II, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of this overflow. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

HHS awards funds to health centers for ending the HIV epidemic

September 23, 2021

HHS awards funds to health centers for ending the HIV epidemic

MOBILE, Ala. — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has awarded more than $48 million to 271 HRSA-supported health centers across 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to expand HIV prevention and treatment, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) related services, outreach, and care coordination.

This latest investment is part of HHS’ Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative, which aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 90 percent by 2030.

Family Health, primary care division of the Mobile County Health Department, was among those awarded additional supplemental funding focusing on supporting access to and use of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). This funding will expand HIV prevention services that decrease the risk of HIV transmission in counties, territories, and states prioritized due to substantial HIV diagnosis. This funding, awarded to Family Health, will build upon fiscal year (FY) 2020 HRSA Health Center Program EHE awards by funding additional health centers in the EHE priority jurisdictions.

Family Health was an original awardee granted the opportunity to utilize FY 2020 EHE funding. Since 1979, Family Health has provided comprehensive primary care services throughout Mobile County. The sites, which are designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), are strategically located where the needs are the greatest and access to care is limited.

“HHS-supported community health centers are often a key point of entry to HIV prevention and treatment services, especially for underserved populations,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “I am proud of the role they play in providing critical services to 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. Today’s awards will ensure equitable access to services free from stigma and discrimination, while advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025.”

Awarded health centers will use the funding to conduct outreach and HIV testing, expand their workforce to increase access to and use of PrEP, and connect individuals who test positive for HIV to treatment. Health centers receiving these funds are encouraged to partner more closely with community organizations such as HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program-funded organizations and health departments to facilitate referrals to the health center for prevention services including testing and PrEP, and, for those testing positive for HIV, care soon after diagnosis.

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