Jefferson County health officials offer advice for college students returning home for holidays

Alabama health leaders believe Alabama could see surge in COVID-19
Alabama health leaders believe Alabama could see surge in COVID-19(WBRC)
Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 10:27 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County Health officials are expecting COVID-19 cases to spike after Thanksgiving with many college students returning home for the holiday.

“I think we can do these things, we just have to adjust," Jefferson County Health Department Dr. David Hicks said. "If you are in that 20 year age range, 20-30, you are really at high risk of carrying it and not knowing it. All those gatherings that just go with college life, those absolutely are events where people are spreading.”

Hicks said the best thing college students can do before coming home is getting tested.

“You have to time it about a week in advance just to make sure that you will get those results," Hicks said.

UAB epidemiologist Dr. Suzanne Judd said if a student cant get tested, they need to limit contact with others before traveling.

“Try to give yourself at least 10-14 days from a high risk setting to a setting with family members, especially if family members are at high risk of COVID complications," Judd said.

Dr. Hicks said students should still be careful once they are home.

“You still need to separate yourself as much as possible, almost as if you are treating yourself as a stranger within that household," Hicks said.

Hicks said he thinks Jefferson County case numbers will spike after the holiday.

“A week and a half, two weeks after the holiday, we will see them going higher and higher, so I think it is just these holidays and certain things that we do are compounding the issue,” Hicks said.

He encouraged students to prepare for when they have to return to school.

“Before you go back, get a test, maybe within a week before you go back, so your campus community knows that you have done your part," Hicks said. "We can’t completely stop COVID from spreading. We just want to minimize the chance that it gets to our loved ones.”

Click here for a list of COVID testing sites in Jefferson County.

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