MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris provided a coronavirus update Tuesday addressing the recent rise in cases and hospitalizations.
As of Tuesday, hospitals across the state are caring for more than 900 patients with COVID-19, a high not seen since February, Dr. Harris said. Back on July 3, there were just 179 in-house patients.
3.4 million vaccines have been administered across the state but Alabama remains 50th in the country in vaccination rate. The Alabama Department of Public Health has reported 3,517 doses have been wasted before they could be used.
“It’s really disappointing,” Dr. Harris said. “We’ve had so many people do so much work for the past year and a half and we’re really doing our best to give Alabamians the best advice we can…It just feels like people aren’t getting the message. They won’t get the message. It’s discouraging but it doesn’t change what we have to do. Our job is to keep fighting the good fight and to convince people to do what we think is right for them.”
It is expected that the CDC will announce new guidelines for those who are vaccinated to return to wearing masks in certain situations. Dr. Harris says that this has been a recommendation from ADPH, especially now that students will be returning to in-person learning in the next few weeks.
Dr. Harris also addressed the vaccine hesitancy in the state saying that he believes it’s caused by a multitude of reasons, including lack of information and possible misinformation from non-health officials.
“We really need people to get vaccinated. We really got to put a stop to this,” he said.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in Alabama quickly rises, the head of the Alabama Hospital Association he’s more worried now about the pandemic than before the arrival of vaccines earlier this year. Dr. Don Williamson says hospitalization rates are skyrocketing and could once again push hospital staff to their limits.
“We’ve gone in two weeks from having 200 or 300 patients per day to our seven-day average for cases is now over 1,500 almost 1,600,” Williamson said. Nearly 9 in 10 of all new COVID-19 cases in Alabama are among the unvaccinated.
Gov. Ivey made headlines last week with comments made in response to CBS 42’s Jake Chapman. Her remarked foreshadowed Biden’s comments in Virginia about “a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“Let’s be crystal clear about this issue,” Ivey said at an event Thursday. “And media, I want you to start reporting the facts. The new cases of COVID are because of unvaccinated folks. Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with the unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.”
As of July 25, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports there are now 437,540 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state, in addition to over 50,000 hospitalizations, and 9,163 confirmed deaths connected to the virus since the pandemic first began.
The full press conference can be found in the video player above.