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Health officials say a Memorial Day surge was avoided

Encouraging trends after Memorial Day holiday weekend
Encouraging trends after Memorial Day holiday weekend
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Health leaders said because of immunity levels, Alabama avoided a spike in COVID-19 cases from Memorial Day.

“I’ve been pleasantly encouraged by the numbers that we have been seeing throughout the state,” Jefferson County Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Wesley Willeford said. “When we compare to looking back at holidays that have occurred in the last year, we saw large, large spikes. This is a breath of fresh air. This is an amazing thing.”

Latest numbers show less than 200 Covid patients are hospitalized across the state and Willeford said the immunity circulating is what prevented a Memorial Day surge.

“Because of where we are with immunity right now, I think we may be able to avoid really large scale hospitalizations like we saw back in December and January,” he said. “One of the things that we were most concerned about was our healthcare system being able to manage a volume of patients dealing with COVID-19. As we have more people immune to it, the chances of that bad situation occurring go down quite a bit.”

Willeford said there is vaccine immunity circulating, with about 30 percent of the state fully vaccinated. He said there is also natural immunity from previous COVID infections. But, natural immunity can wear off and Willeford said the vaccine is more of a guaranteed protection.

“I think the best way forward, to make sure we don’t get into the danger zone, is to take advantage of these vaccines,” he said. “Take advantage of that protection.”

While a Memorial Day surge didn’t happen, without more people with guaranteed vaccine protection, spikes could happen from future holiday gatherings.

“Getting those vaccines is going to make sure that those events can be safe,” Willeford said. “That you can have everyone together, that you can be without masks, you can be as close as you want to be, you can have a grand old time.”

Dr. Willeford said another reason to not rely on natural immunity when you are in large crowds is because natural immunity can vary. One person can get more immunity from a previous Covid infection compared to someone else.

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