Morgan County COVID-19 positivity continues downward trend, vaccine rollout continues

Decatur

DECATUR, Ala. – Vaccines highlighted Monday’s COVID-19 update from Morgan County officials.

Decatur City Council President Jacob Ladner started the briefing by reminding the community about three helplines for those who may have trouble registering online for a vaccine.

  • Westmeade Baptist Church (256) 353-2490, open 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday
  • Epic Church – (256) 584-7080, open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
  • Rotary Club of Decatur – (256) 303-1123, open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday

Ladner also gave an update on COVID-19 case numbers across the county – 11,766 Morgan County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020, with a 14-day average positivity rate of 3.72%.

Decatur-Morgan Hospital President Kelli Powers said as of now there are five inpatients with COVID-19; two in intensive care, and one of the two was on a ventilator.

Powers said even with the reduced numbers, the hospital is still seeing patients who are waiting until the last minute to seek medical care. She discouraged this behavior, citing monoclonal antibodies for those with high-risk conditions, as well as other treatments to help those seeking care.

With vaccine eligibility opening to all Alabama residents age 16 and older Monday, Powers said the hospital is receiving more vaccine shipments every week – the hospital has given almost 17,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to date.

Judy Smith with the Alabama Department of Public Health said vaccine supply in the area is looking good too.

“right now there should be no reason that you cannot get a vaccine if you need it, if you’re 16 and older,” Smith said in reference to the Decatur-Morgan County area.

Good news about supply aside, Smith said the county has totaled more than 14,000 COVID-positive cases. She said that is about one in every 10 residents.

“There are 266 people who have died, and I will tell you one of those deaths was yesterday. 13 of those deaths was in March. So it’s not over,” Smith said.

Powers and Smith said clinics are beginning to run into a problem now that the vaccine is more widely available; as people make an appointment with the first place that calls them back, they forget to cancel with other places the registered with, leaving clinics with doses that must be used or otherwise wasted.

Smith suggested those who are having trouble getting appointments to contact local hospitals or local county health departments and see if they have any extra doses they need to give out.

Smith said if they do, they have around 30 minutes to administer the dose before it spoils.

For those 16 or 17 years old, the Pfizer vaccine is the only option authorized for vaccination as of Monday, and the county health departments are NOT using the Pfizer vaccine. In Morgan County, local pharmacies and Decatur-Morgan Hospital do use Pfizer.

Smith pointed the public to vaccinefinder.org, a site that allows anyone to search for clinics near them – even clinics offering a specific vaccine.

However, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris previously advised those 18 and older to take the first vaccine they can get, regardless of which one it is.

Powers said Alabama has not seen a surge in cases in the recent weeks, but she fears for what the near future could hold:

“With lifting the mask mandate this week, I think we may see a surge so if you haven’t been vaccinated I still suggest you wear your mask, social distance, and stay away from people until you’re vaccinated,” Powers said.

She and Smith agree getting vaccinated is a way to protect yourself after the mandate is lifted. Until then, they high recommend continuing to follow CDC guidelines.

Ladner and the rest of the city council will vote on whether or not to repeal the city’s mask policy in conjunction with Governor Ivey’s mask expiration at a city council meeting Monday night.

“Let’s continue to be responsible with our distancing and masking, that’s probably going to become something that’s up to each individual person to do,” he said.

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