YMCA and UAB team up for town hall on the coronavirus pandemic

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:08 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The YMCA teamed up with UAB Thursday afternoon for a virtual town hall meeting answering questions from the public about the coronavirus pandemic and the COVID-19 vaccines.

People were able to submit their questions and have them answered personally by an infectious disease expert from UAB.

We’ve been in this pandemic for nearly two years, and many still have more questions than answers.

That’s why the YMCA teamed up with UAB infectious disease expert Dr. Rachael Lee.

She offered her perspective on the current state of the coronavirus pandemic and answered questions about the vaccine.

“We are at a high level of community transmission, but luckily cases are slowly beginning to drop. If you look at across the board in the United States, red is bad of course, and you can see that about 94% of the counties across the United States are still having high levels of transmission. If you compare this to the week prior, we were seeing much less…or much more red, so I think this is a sign that things are starting to slow down,” Dr. Lee said.

But it’s too soon to let our guards down.

Dr. Lee said new cases of COVID are still being driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

“In Alabama, we do sequencing at the University of Alabama Birmingham, and about 94% are attributable to Delta. In the most recent weeks, nearly 100% have been attributable to that,” Dr. Lee explained.

Dr. Lee said patients with the delta variant are much younger than those with the alpha variant with an average age of 29 years old.

She said more work needs to be done to get younger Alabamians to roll up their sleeves.

“And they had two times the risk of hospitalization and they also used emergency department more than alpha patients. So, you can see how this can be very overwhelming to hospital systems and it can be concerning to our friends and family, especially if we are young and we don’t have very many illnesses and that could put you at risk of being hospitalized,” Dr. Lee said.

She added that there is hope in Alabama. The state no longer ranks last in the country for vaccination rates, with 65% of COVID vaccinations today from first doses.

She also recommended masking to protect children and others who are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.

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