Wednesday afternoon, WAAY 31 questioned Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer, about what’s next for coronavirus in North Alabama. In the live interview, his message was clear - coronavirus isn't going away anytime soon.
Harris said since there is no vaccine right now, social distancing, wearing a mask, and sanitizing are everyone's only defenses against the virus.
He said the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to prepare for winter and flu season.
"We're hopeful people will continue to remember this disease has not gone away. We still do not have a vaccine available. We do not have highly effective treatment available. The best protection we have is to prevent infection from occurring in the first place, and we do that by avoiding gathering with people who aren't in our household," Harris said.
He explained it could be about another week before knowing if there’s another spike in coronavirus hospitalizations from Labor Day weekend. The state reported spikes about three weeks after Memorial Day and the 4th of July.
Harris said the health department is on the phone every day with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re working to learn more about vaccines for the virus that could roll out in the coming months.
"There's up to six vaccines that may be pushed out all around the same time, so we're working out the logistics of how we might do that. We are working with many different partners in the state, provider groups, hospitals nursing homes and others to make sure those vaccines are available," he explained.
Harris told WAAY 31 those coronavirus vaccines will be prioritized and given first to the most vulnerable.
He also said the state ordered 15 times more flu vaccines than they have in the past and, everyone in Alabama should be able to get the vaccine for free, no matter where you live or if you have insurance.
"We're working with a number of different partners in every county to get those out to people. They're available to people at no charge. We want everybody to get a flu shot," he added.
Harris also told us they're seeing an increase in rapid antigen testing because it's faster and cheaper to perform those tests. He said because the rate of false negatives is greater, they’re considered probable cases, however, they are still counted in the total number of cases.