Jefferson County continues to see increase in COVID-19 cases, low vaccination rate

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:31 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A top Jefferson County health leader painted a grim picture Tuesday of the spread of COVID-19 and vaccinations in the county.

Dr. David Hicks told the Birmingham City Council they are looking for any ideas to increase the number of people getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Hicks did offer a dire picture as COVID cases are increasing. Hospitalizations are increasing. The numbers are not at the surge levels we saw last January, but Hicks said the numbers are continuing to go up and the only way to stop it is getting more people vaccinated.

Dr. Hicks updates the city council regularly on just what the COVID and vaccination situation is in Jefferson County. Hicks says cases are up five times what they were a month ago.

“In our county, we are now averaging 75 COVID cases per day. If you go back a month ago, we were averaging 13 cases per day,” Hicks said.

Hicks said the rate of those testing positive for COVID is up from 1.8% three weeks ago to 6.2%. Vaccinations remain a problem with only 36% of the population fully vaccinated.

The health department has reached out to the community to get people shots. They continue to look for new methods.

Councilman John Hilliard voiced frustration at reaching younger people. “The young people just aren’t listening. They still feel like they are not getting this virus,” Hilliard said.

Councilwoman Valorie Abbott said she spoke with a bartender who had COVID but refused to stay at home. “I call it the Alabama Ignorance Factor. The AIF. We have the Alabama Ignorance Factor in Alabama. We are the worst - we can’t even point at Mississippi,” Abbott said.

Hicks said once the vaccines receive full approval, that will give businesses, agencies, and governments the authority to mandate the vaccination of their workers.

“I think you are going to see a wave of employers - you have to be vaccinated or else you won’t receive this service. I think that is a service we may see,” Hicks said.

Dr. Hicks said that may not be true initially in Alabama at first, but he expects to see more people getting vaccinated under those conditions. He also said the county will be putting together a strike force for outreach programs for vaccinations.

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