‘It’s a tragedy’: State health officer responds to Alabama now leading the country in COVID-19 death rate

Alabama News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris held his weekly press briefing regarding the coronavirus pandemic Friday morning.

Dr. Harris began by discussing the new report that states Alabama has the highest COVID-19 death rate across the US. Something the state’s top doctor says could have been avoided.

“We continue to say, at least 90% of these deaths are completely preventable with vaccination,” Dr. Harris said. “There is no reason that these people should have had to die. Vaccination prevents most hospitalizations and most deaths. It’s a tragedy that we have to sit here every week and report these numbers to you.” 

The state health officer says over the past several days Alabama has seen triple-digit deaths reported, including two days in the 200s.

The CDC also released its recommendations for booster shots to the Alabama Department of Public Health early Friday morning. The additional doses are recommended for those who received the Pfizer vaccine only and were administered their second shot at least six months ago. The recommendation includes those 65 years and older, those who live in long-term care facilities, or are 50 years and older with underlying conditions.

CDC did release information on groups that could get a booster shot if the person so chooses. That group includes those who are 18-years and older with underlying conditions or may be at risk of contracting the virus based on their occupation, such as educators, first responders, healthcare workers and grocery store workers.

Dr. Harris did announce new developments in the acquisition of monoclonal antibody treatments from the federal government. Alabama requested 19,000 doses of the treatment and received under 6,600. The allocation of doses is determined based on the number of cases for each state.

“There’s a real scarcity there,” Dr. Harris said. 

As of Friday, the state has seen over 781,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 14,000 deaths from the virus since the pandemic began in March 2020, according to ADPH.

You can watch the full press briefing in the video player above.

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