DECATUR, Ala. — The now weekly COVID-19 briefing began with Decatur Police Chief Nate Allen and Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) Judy Smith updating residents on the latest statistics for the River City.
Chief Allen reported the current number of positive COVID-19 cases for Morgan County stands at 15,889. An increase of 456 cases, which is a 2.9% just in the past week.
ADPH’s Judy Smith started off by commenting how Morgan County is “in a mess.”
“32.61% of this county and this population is fully vaccinated,” she added. “That means 68% is not fully vaccinated.”
A big reason people are not getting vaccinated, Smith says, is the belief in natural immunity.
“A lot of people held out for natural immunity,” said Smith. “‘We’ll wait, let a lot of people get the disease and then we’ll have natural immunity.’ Well folks, what we got out of natural immunity is we got a resurgence of this virus… And then in addition to that, probably the most horrendous thing was the variants.”
Smith then related the virus to something we all know well: Kudzu.
“If you don’t get rid of it, if you don’t control the majority of it, it’s going to overgrow and it’s just going to keep going… and what has happened is we didn’t kill enough of it,” she said. “We didn’t do enough damage to it that the variants came along and it overgrew.”
Smith shared that on June 19, 2021, there was a total of 169 hospitalizations. As of August 15, that number jumped to 2,570. She said the Delta variant is to blame for 83% of current COVID-19 numbers.
When News 19 asked if COVID tests can determine a difference between the regular strain and the Delta variant, Smith answered that there is a specific sequencing that needs to be done in order to confirm the Delta variant, but that not all tests undergo that extent of testing.
She added that with events like Rock the South last weekend and the upcoming Trump rally in Cullman, that they are “shivering in their boots” at the possibility of a surge in new cases.
She then compared the COVID-19 vaccine to other common ones people get.
“None of us, probably, would be sitting here today had it not been for small pox vaccine, measles vaccine, certainly polio vaccine and all of those were much less tested, much less tried at the time that we as citizens grabbed on to it,” said Smith.
She was unable to give a confirmed number of COVID cases among children, but in regards to the dilemma schools are facing with vaccines only eligible for those 12 and older said, “We as the adults, have both the capability and responsibility to get vaccinated for the children that can’t.”
Because of the rise in cases, Decatur City Schools started requiring everyone inside school buildings and school buses to wear masks starting August 16.