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Dr. Scott Harris: ‘We aren’t seeing the same number of deaths’ from COVID-19 despite recent surge in cases

Alabama COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, according to the Alabama Deptartment of Public Health (ADPH). As of July 14, the test positivity rate reached 29.2%, which is a 4.4% increase from July 1.

Despite the current surge, Alabama’s State Health Officer said the state was not currently seeing the rise of COVID-19 deaths that it saw during previous surges.

Dr. Scott Harris advised on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal” that the availability of COVID vaccines and treatments was responsible for lowering the number of deaths from the virus in the Yellowhammer State.

“One thing that we’re fortunate to see is that we aren’t seeing the same number of deaths following those hospitalizations,” Harris said. “For the first year and a half of the pandemic, if we got 100 cases today, we knew in two or three weeks one or two of those people were not going to survive. It was just the 1% or 2% mortality rate. It was really consistent for most of the pandemic, but now that we have vaccines, now that we have monoclonal antibodies that are effective, now that we have oral medications that are effective, and because the variant strain itself is a little less deadly on average, we’re seeing that decoupling, if you will, from the case numbers and the numbers of deaths.”

Harris warned though that those who might be immunocompromised should still be careful.

“If you’re somebody who’s medically vulnerable,” he said, “because of your age or because of health problems, and particularly if you’re unvaccinated, I don’t think the situation has changed that much for those folks.”

He said the ADPH was doing what it could to put out the latest relevant information so Alabamians could take certain steps to protect themselves from catching the virus.

“We have the information updated every week on our website,” he advised, “showing what your county’s level is, whether it’s red or orange or yellow or green. So, we encourage people to follow those maps to make decisions about what’s going on around them.”

Harris said healthy vaccinated people did not have as much to worry about when it came to the current spread of the virus.

“For people that are fully vaccinated, I think you can pretty much do what you need to do…for most of us, if you’re otherwise healthy and fully vaccinated, you can live your life pretty much like you want,” Harris added.

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” Weekdays 9-11am on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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