MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris addressed the media Friday morning regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This comes a day after President Joe Biden announced new vaccine mandates for 100 million Americans Thursday afternoon. Alabama still ranks at the bottom for vaccination rate in the country.
Gov. Kay Ivey released a statement on the mandates Thursday calling them “outrageous” and “overreaching.” Dr. Harris gave a response to Biden’s comments but did not want to get into the political aspect of requiring vaccines.
“The politics is the issue, I’m not in a position to talk about that,” he said. “I’ll just say our goal is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible. It’s the best possible way to get out of this.”
As of Friday, the state has seen over 740,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. Over 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Alabamians since last December.
Dr. Harris gave new information on school-age children and the virus, saying compared to this time last year, there is a 605% increase in the number of children who test positive. Around 8,400 students have tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite the rise in positive cases in schools, Dr. Harris did say that the number of hospitalizations in the state has begun to plateau a bit.
“I’m very thankful for that,” Dr. Harris said. “The numbers aren’t great but the numbers at least have not continued to go up.”
You can watch the full press briefing in the video player above.