OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – All East Alabama Health facilities are back to requiring masks as Lee county and Macon County are now considered communities with a high COVID-19 transmission level.

With 58 of 67 Alabama counties being at a “moderate” transmission level or higher—including Lee County at a “high” rate of 10.7 percent—East Alabama Health officials are reinstating the requirement of a medical-grade mask at all of its facilities, including East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika and EAMC-Lanier in Valley. This masking requirement goes into effect Tuesday and applies to visitors and staff at all East Alabama Health locations. Green level visitation within the organization, which began on April 18, will remain in place for the time being but is subject to change if the transmission level increases and is sustained for a period of time.

“We suspect the transmission rate may already be higher than 9.4 percent since some people use home tests or simply decide to treat their symptoms without an official diagnosis,” states Brooke Bailey, Infection Prevention director at East Alabama Health. “Hopefully this increase is minimal and brief. However, with graduations, weddings, and other large summertime activities coming up, we feel it’s important to make this move now to help protect our patients and staff in our hospitals and other clinical settings.”

COVID Positivity Rates in Alabama (source: ADPH.org, May 17, 2022)

Rate Number of counties

4 – 4.99 (low – BLUE) 9 (most in west Alabama)

5.0 – 7.99 (moderate – YELLOW) 33 (including Chambers, Randolph, Russell and Tallapoosa counties)

8.0 – 9.9 (substantial – ORANGE) 8 (most around the Birmingham area)

10.0 or higher (high – RED) 17 (including Lee and Macon counties locally, and Jefferson (Birmingham) and Madison (Huntsville) counties—two of the largest counties in Alabama)