A senior adviser to the Biden administration declined to consider whether Alabama could – or should – see further restrictions if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Dr. Cameron Webb, senior policy adviser for COVID-19 capital in the White House response team, told AL.com’s Ivana Hrynkiw in a video interview on Friday that the current recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be sufficient to keep disease at bay ̵
“The guideline is that if you are vaccinated, then you are protected and you must be okay,” Webb said. “And if you are not vaccinated, wear a mask and keep your distance.
“And then there is the current best guidance based on the science that tells us what people need to do in this moment to ensure that they stay safe and make sure their community stays safe and makes sure we continue with to move forward with ending this pandemic. ”
But there is a catch, the looming question hangs everywhere: What should I do if Alabama’s case number and hospital admissions continue to rise? The Delta variant of COVID-19 is more easily transmitted than other virus strains and now accounts for more than half of American cases.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, head of UAB’s infectious diseases department, warned this week that Alabama might have to consider restrictions if COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to rise and vaccination rates remain low. UAB Hospital was down to just five COVID patients on June 25, but it rose to 24 patients by July 5.
Alabama is now last in the country in vaccination rates, passing the Mississippi later this week, and Alabama hospitals report that 94% of patients admitted with COVID were not vaccinated.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said the state was “open to business” and “moving forward” in response to an article on Marrazzo’s comments. Ivey also urged Alabamers to get the vaccine.
Webb did not speculate on what restrictions might be needed, saying it would be a decision for state and local leaders.
“I think if we get to that moment, it’s going to be a really important conversation, you know, for the state and the local leadership about what else we could do to stem the tide,” Webb said. “But I think at the moment we have the kind of guidance we need to protect communities.”
Webb said the White House continued to work on vaccine hesitation among low-income communities, including Alabama. He said many people are still unsure of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and that outreach programs can help answer some of these questions.
“We need to have these conversations, it needs to be the next step for people to get the information they need to make that decision,” Webb said. “And if they ultimately decide they do not want to be vaccinated anyway, know the facts, know the science, then we just have to encourage them to make sure they do their part by wearing a mask and maintaining the distance. until this is over. “
You can watch the full video of Webb’s interview in the clip above.