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7 Things: Schools across Alabama implement new procedures due to Omicron, emergency rooms overrun, wild weather hits Alabama and more …

7. Race being used to consider who receives treatment

  • It’s been announced by the New York Department of Health that while coronavirus treatment supply is struggling, the state will give priority to non-white citizens to receive treatment. This will include pill-form treatments and monoclonal antibody treatments. This is happening elsewhere, too.
  • The release from the department says, “Non-white race or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity should be considered a risk factor, as longstanding systematic health and social inequities have contributed to an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.”

6. Alabama still has $1.5 billion in coronavirus relief funds to spend

  • It’s still unclear how the remainder of the coronavirus relief funds will be spent in Alabama, with the current balance at $1.5 billion. It’s expected that the Alabama Legislature will give more direction once in session, which begins January 11.
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said most of the money is likely to go to regional and local projects, with some going to health care providers and hospitals that have been impacted during the pandemic. Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund chairman Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) advised, “I want this money to be invested in the future, not paying for the past. I want this money to go into matters that will make a difference for the next generation.”

5. January 6 is the media’s new favorite holiday, and they will celebrate all week

  • It’s expected that some findings from the January 6 committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot could be released soon. No actual date has been announced, but the findings will be released over the next few months.
  • The committee has been investigating for months, but very little has been released yet. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) stated, “The full picture is coming to light, despite President Trump’s ongoing efforts to hide the picture. I don’t think there’s any area of this broader history in which we aren’t learning new things.”

4. Possible victory on vaccine mandates is getting closer

  • The U.S. Supreme Court case challenging President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate will present oral arguments on January 7. This effort has been building since Biden issued the initial mandate, with many states, including Alabama, challenging the mandate.
  • Fresh off a victory regarding the Head Start program’s vaccine mandate, Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed multiple lawsuits against the mandate, including against the portion including private employers through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as one against Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

3. Wild weather over the last few days for Alabama

  • Icy and snow-covered roads, black ice, power outages, warming stations, closed schools (even though most are closed), cold temperatures across the state and a few inches of snow in North Alabama on Sunday and Monday have caused issues across the state.
  • The National Weather Service announced that there were two tornadoes in North Alabama over the weekend, with one in Madison and Limestone Counties. There were several businesses in Hazel Green that were damaged from an EF-0 tornado. There was a second tornado in the Triana area that was also confirmed to be an EF-0. Some homes were impacted by the tornado in Triana.

2. Stop going to the ER for a coronavirus test

  • As Omicron coronavirus cases rise, some people have taken to going to hospitals to get a coronavirus test. However, many Alabama hospitals are asking people to stop coming to the emergency room for a test, unless they are having symptoms that require medical attention. This is not only an Alabama phenomenon. It is happening everywhere because of mandates for negative tests for people to return to work/school and asymptomatic people who want tests after being exposed.
  • Hospitals like East Alabama Medical Center have seen an influx of people with mild symptoms coming to the hospital. In a press release, the hospital said, “This is creating a difficult situation for staff and non-COVID patients alike. While COVID positivity rates have ranged between 25-45 percent this week, testing through Eds should be limited to patients who are experiencing symptoms that are not manageable with over-the-counter medicines and who could require hospitalization.” Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci is suggesting more testing for asymptomatic people, which will make things worse.

1. Omicron-related changes for schools 

  • The effectiveness of masks being worn by most kids is already in question, and children are generally not at risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, but school systems all over the state are hell-bent on appearing that they are doing something. Some school systems are going to virtual learning, while others have decided that masks need to be worn regardless of vaccination status.
  • Corey Kirkland, Public Health administrator at the Alabama Department of Public Health, is pushing the masking of all kids. He said,  “I know before some kids went to school and still wore their mask and that is certainly something the parents need to consider going forward.”