State Health Officer: ‘It’s been quite a seven months’ since the pandemic started

Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 8:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s been exactly seven months to the day since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Alabama.

State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health Dr. Scott Harris said it has been quite a seven months, and seems a lot longer.

He injected a little humor saying the time has felt like dog years. He said every month has felt like a year.

But in order to get things under control, Dr. Harris said we all need to change our behaviors, and that’s no laughing matter.

“Our first case was back in March on Friday the 13th and it’s really been Friday the 13th …you know, every single day,” Dr. Harris said.

The irony of when that first case was reported isn’t lost on Dr. Harris, but he said we’re in a better place now than we were back at the end of July and the early part of August.

“We set…you know…new records for numbers of deaths and new records for daily cases - sometimes more than 2,000 new cases every day. So, we’re about half of where we were at that time,” Dr. Harris said.

He added that right now, we’re seeing between 700 and 900 new cases daily, but he wishes we were doing better.

“Really what we have is the ability to prevent new infections, and we do that by changing our behavior. You know…wearing face coverings, staying 6 feet away from people, staying home when you’re sick, you know…washing your hands. All those are things that will definitely improve our numbers,” Dr. Harris explained.

But despite the challenges, Dr. Harris said the percentage of people who die from COVID-19 has decreased and health care professionals are getting better at treating patients.

“You know…to some degree, it may be that the percentage of people dying is going down because we’re getting more cases among younger people or healthier people as opposed to older people. Now, we don’t want anyone to get cases, but if people are getting infected it’s better for everyone if they’re people who aren’t at risk for serious illness,” Dr. Harris explained.

Dr. Harris said he feels good about the direction Alabama is headed. He said Alabamians are resourceful and they understand what’s at stake, but we all need to continue to wear our masks, practice social distancing, avoid large crowds and wash those hands.

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