HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – When it comes to masking, it seems as though some national and state leaders are on different pages.
Monday morning a CDC executive said the country is at risk for a new surge of COVID-19 cases if people prematurely abandon current guidelines. Later that day, President Joe Biden encouraged all states to continue masking. But Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said she still plans to end Alabama’s mask mandate as scheduled, April 9.
The state’s case rate and hospitalizations are on the decline. But Dr. Karen Landers with the state department of public health said the number of confirmed variant cases has grown to 113.
“In Alabama, we have some UK variant cases, we have one South African variant, and we have a few California variants and that’s actually not on the CDC map,” she said. “Yet again our numbers are relatively small but keep in mind that we do not sequence every specimen in the state of Alabama.”
ADPH said mask-wearing will likely continue making a difference in preventing a surge in not only SARS-CoV-2 cases but variant cases as well. As will vaccinations which Alabama is lagging in.
Compared to all other states and Washington D.C., the CDC reports Alabama is in 51st place in vaccines per capita. Dr. Landers said the standings were caused by a lack of vaccine clinics.
“Where we have been behind in terms of the CDC figures if you just look at distribution is that we have not had as many vaccine clinics and opportunities throughout the state of Alabama but again that is being worked on every day,” she said.
Landers said continued education about all of these factors: masking, the transmission of variants, and vaccinations will hopefully make for a less stressful summer.
“Again, there’s no reason to not carry out these basic infection control practices, until we have a much lower transmission rate and a much higher vaccine rate.”