Ivey says Alabama ‘open for business’ despite Delta cases: ‘We are moving forward’ – AL.com

Gov. Kay Ivey took to Facebook on Thursday to clarify that Alabama is “moving forward” following comments by a top expert at UAB that the state could be forced to consider new restrictions if Alabama sees a surge of COVID-19 cases this summer.

“Alabama is OPEN for business, Vaccines are readily available, and I encourage folks to get one. The state of emergency and health orders have expired. We are moving forward,” Ivey wrote on Facebook.

Ivey’s comments came in response to an article quoting UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, who said Wednesday that she is very concerned about a recent increase in hospitalizations due to the highly infectious Delta variant. She said that if Alabama sees a COVID-19 surge, the state may need to reconsider restrictions.

“When you get to that point and healthcare delivery is threatened and you start to see the death rates increase, you’ve probably gotten past the point where some restrictions should really be considered,” she said at a press conference Wednesday.

The Delta variant is four times as contagious as the original COVID-19 strain and can be transmitted within 5-10 seconds of contact.

Alabama’s Department of Public Health has identified 51 cases of the Delta variant strain. The state has limited capacity to conduct sequencing of the virus.

It has quickly swept through the United States and is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 nationwide.

UAB hospital saw a five-fold increase of hospitalizations between June 24 and July 5, up to 24 patients hospitalized by July 4, an increase from 5 hospitalizations on June 2. The increase is among mostly younger patients, following a national trend, said Dr. Marrazzo. Of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama, 94 percent are unvaccinated a study by the Alabama Hospital Association showed.

With 33 percent of the state’s population fully vaccinated, Alabama has the nation’s second to lowest vaccination rate following Mississippi, according to the CDC.

Vaccines are largely effective against the Delta variant, according to available studies.

Dr. Marrazzo on Wednesday said the relatively low rates of vaccination in Alabama make it vulnerable to a surge of COVID-19 cases this summer and a rise in deaths. She also noted the possibility that a spike in cases could cause the rise of a variant with an ability to evade vaccines.

Dr. Marrazzo acknowledged that restrictions are not popular in Alabama, but that a possible surge could threaten efforts to get back to normal.

“There’s a point where you really just can’t ignore what’s going on. Where that balance is… is something we’re going to have to grapple with,” Dr. Marrazzo said Wednesday.

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