‘We are going in in the wrong direction’: Delta variant causes concerns for North Alabama health experts

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:43 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are surging all over the state and causing concerns for health experts, including here in the Tennessee Valley. Some experts believe a big part of the surge is the delta variant.

According to internal documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the delta variant may even be as contagious as chickenpox. On Tuesday, the CDC released they now recommend fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of “substantial or high transmission”.

Judy Smith with the Alabama Department of Public Health said we are now a long way from where we were about a month ago.

“We have taken a detour and we are going in the wrong direction,” Smith said. “The new cases we were seeing was less than 500 a day.”

That statistic changed, and according to Smith over the past week, we’ve seen an increase in new cases every single day.

“On July 21st, we actually went over 1,000 cases in Alabama in one day, and now at the end of July we are seeing 2,000 cases a day,” she said.

Hospitalizations are also skyrocketing. Huntsville Hospital reports system-wide the number of people hospitalized because of COVID-19 has more than tripled in less than a month. On July 7th, system-wide, Huntsville Hospital had only 35 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, but on July 29th, they had 136.

“We’ve seen an increase in ICU admissions as well. The majority is unvaccinated,” said Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist.

Smith said the community must work together to get through this pandemic.

“We know right now is that at least 75% of the cases are from the delta variant,” said Smith.

Unpublished data from the CDC states that fully vaccinated people might even spread the delta variant at the same rate as unvaccinated people.

“We have known from the very beginning in talking about the vaccines that none of them are 100 percent effective,” Smith said. “Their primary goal is to prevent serious disease and to prevent death. The vaccines have done a phenomenal job.”

Smith said it doesn’t matter if it’s the delta variant, or another variant, the disease can still mean trouble.

“Truthfully it really doesn’t matter if it makes people sick whatever you want to call it, most people know I grew up in the country and it really doesn’t matter whether the snake is a rattlesnake, a coral snake, or a water moccasin,” Smith said when asked about the delta variant. “If it bites you and you get sick you are in trouble.”

She encourages everyone to practice social distancing.

“We need to get back to where we need to be,” Smith said. “I would encourage others to listen to people who have been sick, who have been in the hospital, and please consider helping to protect your family and other folks.”

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