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Alabama may face uncomfortable summer with COVID-19 if vaccination rate stays low

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 4:34 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A UAB infectious disease doctor said Monday that Alabama could be heading toward an uncomfortable summer.

Last year, the state saw a surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Dr. Michael Saag spoke about the need for vaccinations. He said that is the only way to bring the pandemic under control. Recent numbers were dropping, but he added we are seeing signs that is changing.

Alabama’s vaccination rate has climbed to about 36% for those with at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. Dr. Saag says that is not good enough.

“Somehow, the messaging from CDC that only vaccinated people can be safe without a mask got lost in translation,” Saag said.

Saag said too many people were going without a mask in crowds over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, even those who were unvaccinated. While Alabama may not see a surge, Saag said the holiday will be a stress test for just how Alabama is doing with vaccinations and following safety procedures for those who are not vaccinated.

“We should see if this was all correct, an uptick in cases over the next two weeks. Unfortunately in the last two or three days, that is just what we are seeing,” Saag said.

Saag said coming into Memorial Day, Alabama was seeing some of its lowest cases since the pandemic began with 100 to 150 a day positive cases. In the last several days, that has risen to 400 or 500.

“By this time next week, we should have some sort of an answer. If we see our cases increasing to a thousand or higher, that means we definitely failed the Memorial Day stress test,” Saag said.

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