Alabama reports 4,500 COVID-19 cases in last two weeks amid gradual reopening

Alabama has reported more than 4,900 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease in the past two weeks as it has gradually allowed businesses to reopen. 

The majority of the new cases have come from Alabama's two most populated counties: Jefferson and Mobile.

Jefferson County — home to Birmingham, the state's most populous city — has reported 1,638 cases, while Mobile has confirmed 2,044. Montgomery County, the third most populous county in Alabama, also has more than 1,000 cases. 

Alabama overall has reported more than 15,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic. At least 573 people in the state have died from the virus.

Montgomery Mayor Steve Reed (D) pushed back against the state's reopening strategy in an interview Monday with CNN, saying that the state has moved away from following social distancing guidelines.

“I think certainly people have decided that the pandemic is over, that there's not a risk out there," Reed said on the network's "New Day."

"They are ready to get back to their normal way of doing things, and that’s a mistake that we’ve been making over the last few weeks, is we have kind of eased restrictions in this community and across the state. We’re still in the middle of a crisis. We’re still battling this pandemic,” Reed said.

Alabama's rate of positive tests, another important statistic used to determine how a community is handling the pandemic, has been slowly rising.

According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, at the beginning of the month, Alabama's average positivity rate was hovering around 5 percent. Now, the average is roughly 8 percent.
 
Alabama's stay-at-home order expired on April 30. It is now under a "safer-at-home" order issued by Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyOfficials warn of 'catastrophic' flooding as Hurricane Sally makes landfall in Alabama Trump tells Gulf Coast residents to prepare for 'extremely dangerous' Hurricane Sally Overnight Health Care: Shifting CDC testing guidance sparks backlash | Democrats offer lower price tag for COVID-19 aid but stalemate persists | Trump administration to purchase 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests MORE, a Republican. 
 
At first, retail stores were allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity, with beaches, restaurants and bars being allowed to resume dine-in operations, as long as they kept to social distancing guidelines.

Ivey amended her order last week, allowing for even more of Alabama to resume business. Now, entertainment venues — bowling alleys, arcades, theaters — can be open as long as safety guidelines are followed. Child care facilities and summer camps were also green-lighted, and athletic practices resumed Saturday. Moreover, educational institutions are slated to reopen June 1.

This safer-at-home phase of Ivey's reopening strategy is set to go until July 3, when the situation in the state will be reevaluated again.