New COVID variant spreading like wildfire

Published 1:19 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

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The state of Alabama is colored red and it isn’t for Christmas. The Alabama Department of Public Health lists the entire state as a red zone, meaning the COVID variants are spreading rapidly and easily throughout the state.

Lowndes County, one of the highest vaccinated counties in Alabama, are seeing 1,058 new confirmed cases per 100,000 persons.

Neighboring counties are not fairing much better. Montgomery County is listed as having 1,170.3 new cases, Butler County is at 784.5, and Crenshaw County tops the list at 2,228 per 100,000 persons.

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The Omicron variant was first confirmed in the state in early December.

“We know that this virus is highly infectious and moves quickly throughout the world,” Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer, said. “Alabamians know what to do to keep each other safe now—get the vaccine, get tested, wear a mask indoors and get a booster. Together, we can fight this virus and help keep our residents safe.”

Health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated and get boosters if eligible. Masks are still encouraged when indoors or in public settings as well as staying 6 feet away from others.

The Department of Health says to get tested if you are having symptoms and stay home if you are sick.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved emergency use to Pfizer for Paxlovid, an oral antiviral drug, to treat COVID.

According to data, the drug is 88 percent effective in reducing the number of hospitalizations and deaths of those infected with the virus.

The drug is by prescription only and is in limited quantities. Alabama should receive 780 patient courses by the first week in January. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will oversee the allocation of the drug to state and territorial health departments and select Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)- funded health clinics.

The production of Paxlovid is set to ramp up significantly in the coming months according to the Alabama Department of Health.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine time for people with COVID-19 to just five days.

The CDC said that if a person is asymptomatic, they can wear a mask and be around other people.

The reason for the change in time comes from evidence that most transmissions occur early on in the illness, usually one or two days before symptoms appear and two to three days after.

Infected individuals who cannot follow the recommended masking, such as children, should still remain in isolation for 10 days.