State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris gave an update on the rapidly rising of COVID-19 cases across Alabama during a news conference held Thursday morning,
The number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals has grown more than 10-fold since early July – from about 200 to almost 2,400 as of Wednesday. Until about five weeks ago the number of hospitalized patients had fallen off sharply since peaking at about 3,100 in January.
During that briefing, Harris said he expects the number of hospitalized to exceed the January peak within a few days, adding the high rate of positive COVID tests indicates the alarming trend is NOT likely to turn around quickly. Harris urged people to get one of the three widely available, FREE vaccines, which he said are meeting expectations for effectiveness. Harris said that about 86% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in recent days were unvaccinated.
The highly contagious Delta variant, and Alabama’s low vaccination rate, are helping to fuel the sharp rise in cases and hospitalizations.
Harris said “If you’re someone who’s infected with COVID, we want you to go home for a minimum of 10 days – 10 to 14 days is ideal. Please don’t return to your public life until your symptoms are improving, until your fever has been gone for at least a day. That’s the same recommendation we’ve had for a year and a half and that hasn’t changed”.
The ADPH dashboard is currently showing a high level of community transmission in all 67 counties. Since the pandemic started about 17 months ago – Alabama has had about 620,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 11,689 deaths.
Points Harris made during the news conference included:
- Pregnant women are encouraged to received vaccines. Harris said the latest information reinforces the safety of the vaccines for pregnant women.
- Only about 24% of Alabamians age 12 to 17 have received vaccinations. Harris said that is a concern as school systems open around the state.
- Monoclonal antibody treatments are effective for people diagnosed with COVID-19 – especially those at high risk for serious illness, and can help keep the out of the hospital.
- People should be wearing masks in indoor public spaces, even those who are vaccinated. Harris said that people who suffer breakthrough infections can spread the disease even if they don’t get very sick.
- The rate of vaccinations in Alabama has increased by about three-fold since June and early July, but is still well short of the peak in the spring.
- With a two-shot vaccine, it takes six or seven weeks after the initial shot to be fully protected.