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State health chief: A ‘mistake’ to think COVID-19 has ‘gone away’

According to the latest statistics from the Alabama Department of Public Health, COVID-19 cases rose 11% last week as 15,672 cases were reported – up from 14,121 cases the previous week.

On Friday, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris discussed the continuing pandemic response during Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal.”

Talking about what precautions to take, Harris said, “Certainly, there’s risks that are determined by who you are yourself, what’s your age, what’s your medical condition, what’s your vaccination status, all those things have to go into those kind of decisions.”

Harris reminded Alabamians the pandemic is not over.

“We do have to get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said. “Clearly everybody understands that we are living with this disease, but it would be a mistake to think that it’s gone away and that it’s not a problem, anymore.”

Harris also took the opportunity to push people getting vaccinated to better protect themselves from the disease.

“I know I sound like a broken record,” he said. “But I just try to use every chance to reiterate, the single most important thing that you can do to protect yourself and to protect people around is to get vaccinated … 22 times more likely to die if your unvaccinated.

“I don’t know how anybody can hear that number and not pull the trigger on getting vaccinated, but that’s the single most important thing that people can do.”

When it comes to the issue of wearing masks, Harris said it’s a personal choice, but might be necessary in some situations.

“I think that we’ve moved away from requiring people to have masks,” he said. “But, clearly masks make sense in a lot of situations for people. I would say for most Alabamians if you’re not interested in wearing a mask you’re free to make those decisions, but let’s not stigmatize those people who do.

“There are people out there where the immune system is that you can’t be vaccinated, they can’t really protect themselves with the vaccine. Those are the kind of people who continue to wear masks. There are people who are just older, or have chronic health problems and maybe they’re vaccinated or maybe not, but they still choose to wear a mask, but I think that they ought to be allowed to do that.”

Harris advised people who feel sick to stay home, especially since COVID-19 is still spreading across the state.

“We’re getting 2,000 or 3,000 cases a day still, every single day of COVID, just that we know of, and there’s some we don’t,” he said. “So, if you have any type of illness at all, if you’re concerned at all, please do a quick COVID test at home … if you have a fever, we all learned in kindergarten that you need to stay home until it goes away, you don’t need to be around other people.”

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

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