The curve in Limestone County could finally be on its way to flattening again, but that doesn't mean residents can ditch the masks or hang with strangers any time soon.

The county passed the 1,000-case mark over the weekend, sitting Monday at a cumulative total of 1,031 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March 13. The death toll from the disease in Limestone County also rose, with the Alabama Department of Public Health reporting 10 confirmed deaths and one probable death as of Monday.

The county had five confirmed deaths and 879 cases as of July 20, or the previous Monday.

The positive test rate in the county also rose over the last week, though not nearly as much as in previous weeks. From June 24 to July 20, the two-week positive test rate jumped nearly two percentage points.

However, data available Monday showed an increase of only .2% from the two-week period ending July 20 to the two-week period ending July 27. This, in addition to declining numbers of new cases and of visits for COVID-like symptoms, helped lead to Limestone County being moved from "very high risk" to "high risk" of COVID-19 spread by ADPH.

Hospitalizations in the county appear to be holding steady, as well. Traci Collins, president of Athens-Limestone Hospital, told The News Courier there are currently 14 patients in the hospital, though none were on a ventilator as of Monday.

"We have been holding around that average for the past week," Collins said, adding other hospitals in the area are experiencing higher volumes and facing a lack of available ICU beds.

She advised Limestone Countians to continue keeping social distance and wearing their masks. The hospital opened a new COVID Clinic this week to provide testing and symptom assessment for individuals in the area.

The clinic is located at 1005 W. Market Street in Suite 7. No appointment is necessary, but anyone with questions or concerns can call 256-216-9774. Hours are 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Central North Alabama Health Services Inc. will also host a free, drive-up testing event from 9 a.m.–noon Thursday at the Athens Family Health Center, located at a different suite of the same address as the hospital's clinic.

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