UAB director of infectious disease gives update on increasing COVID-19 numbers

Doctors warn of surging COVID cases

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Today the director of the UAB School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, joined other Alabama health leaders in urging people to continue to protect themselves against the coronavirus. As numbers continue to increase across the country, Alabama is now close to 224,000 cases. Hospitalizations are over 1,200 and more than 3,000 people have died.

The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force data shows Alabama is still in the red with rising cases. With Jefferson, Madison and Shelby counties leading the way. Dr. Marrazzo said the state is in the middle of a surge and with the holidays coming and the urge for people to be around friends and family, she fully expects those numbers will continue to climb unless people take the necessary steps of social distancing and wearing face coverings.

“All of our markers I mentioned are going up. Including our cases, including the number people who have died and including our hospitalization rates. We are approaching numbers that we were seeing in July, which were very very worrisome indeed,” Marrazzo said.

Dr. Marrazzo said people can change this by sticking to their guns over those safety procedures. Students going home for the holidays shouldn’t let a recent negative COVID test cause you to drop your guard. She says the infection is spreading not from sick people but from people who are not showing symptoms, which happens two days after testing negative.

The rise in COVID 19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are concerning health leaders in Alabama. While at the same time they are optimistic about the news vaccines could possibly be on the way to Alabama by Mid-December.

As COVID numbers continue to cause concern for those fighting and studying this infectious disease, health leaders in Alabama remain optimistic about a vaccines that could possibly be on the way to Alabama by Mid-December.

Pfizer Pharmaceuticals is applying for an emergency declaration from the FDA to get their vaccine out to the public. Moderna is following up with another vaccine.

Both vaccines have shown in trials to be very effective treating and protecting people from the coronavirus. Both vaccines would require two doses. The big concern about the Pfizer vaccine has been that it has to be housed in special freezers at -80 celsius. Marrazzo said today that they’ve learned that the vaccine could last up to a week in a normal freezer. Moderna’s vaccine does not have to be housed as cold.

Marrazzo said this is progress but she reminds people not to drop their guard over the promise of a vaccine.

“In fact I would like people to continue to as if we don’t have a vaccine. We don’t have a vaccine yet. We probably won’t have a vaccine until well into to 2021,” she said.

She says the first ones to get vaccines will be front line workers and those most affected by the disease. It still may not be enough to cover everyone.

Doctors say to remain vigilant despite vaccine progress

Governor Kay Ivey joined with an Alabama business lobbying group today to say she won’t be calling for shutting down state businesses even though COVID cases continue to rise.

When Alabama businesses shutdown earlier this year, it caused a tremendous economic hardship. Some businesses were not able to reopen when the sanctions were lifted. Dr. Marrazzo said comes down to individual responsibility to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and others from the spread of the disease.

“We can work around some of the draconian measures we took back in the spring. Nobody wants to go back to the lockdown. Businesses can’t afford it. We have been debating this for long time,” Marrazzo said.

She said people can keep those businesses open. “It’s people’s personal responsibility. Encourage that, reward that and role model that by our leaders. That is what we need to do in my mind,” Marrazzo said.

Alabama Senator Doug Jones joined Marrazzo today and agreed. Jones said it’s also on those businesses to take the necessary steps to ensure social distancing is taking place and people are wearing masks.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.