Special to Atmore News
The following press release was issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre cautioned Alabamians about rising rates of COVID-19 and asked them to be vigilant during the days ahead. The spread of the virus has resulted in the greatest increases in hospitalizations since July, and for the past six weeks there have been at least 1,000 new cases per day. In July, Alabama hospitals were at maximum capacity.
The statistics are alarming — there have been more than 230,000 individual cases in Alabama so far with 1.5 percent of cases resulting in death (3,459). This is about 15 times the death rate from influenza. In seniors age 75 and older the risk is far greater.
As an example for others, Dr. McIntyre said her family is limiting its normally large Thanksgiving gathering to a total of seven people from two households. Before each person enters, temperatures are checked, and everyone wears facial coverings unless eating. Everyone uses hand sanitizer upon entry and prior to eating. Only one person will touch all serving utensils, they will use disposable tableware, and households will eat at separate tables to ensure they are separated by more than 6 feet. Other family members will celebrate virtually from other locations.
Encouraging COVID-19 vaccine development efforts continue. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have announced they have developed promising vaccines that are safe and highly effective. The Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee will evaluate them and make recommendations, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review, and Operation Warp Speed will ship and preposition vaccine shipments to avoid unnecessary delays.
The public is reminded to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 by staying at home as much as possible, wearing facial coverings as much as is practical, washing hands, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining good hygiene, socially distancing, and knowing their COVID-19 status. Health officials urge everyone to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19.