As COVID-19 surges in Alabama and the start of a new school year is days away, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama will host a live webcast Thursday with top medical experts to discuss vaccinations, masking and best practices to safely return to school.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and Dr. David Kimberlin, a pediatric infectious disease expert, will take part in the Facebook Live session at 4 p.m. on Thursday, which will allow parents and others watching to submit questions.
“Many parents have questions and concerns as their children get ready to start school at the same time COVID infections and hospitalizations are on the rise. The Medical Association is pleased to host this event where parents and others can get the accurate and reliable information they need,” said Dr. Aruna Arora, president of the Medical Association, in a statement. “It’s perfectly normal to have questions, and anyone with questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines should talk to a medical doctor.”
Physicians recommend that everyone over the age of 12 get vaccinated to help protect themselves and others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday updated guidance to recommend that vaccinated people in areas of “high” or “substantial” COVID-19 transmission wear masks when in public indoor settings, and that all teachers, staff and students older than two in K-12 schools wear masks regardless of vaccination status.
All but six Alabama counties are considered at high risk of COVID-19, with four deemed substantial risks and just two considered moderate risks, according to the CDC.
Gov Kay Ivey has said she has no plans to reinstate a statewide mask mandate, which has left the decision on whether to require masks in schools up to local school systems.
As families and school staff prepare to return to class, COVID-19 continues to surge across the state and much of the U.S.
Alabama added 2,726 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the largest daily increase since Feb. 4. The state’s seven-day average of new daily cases of 1,931 is an 815 percent increase from the average on July 1.
Hospitals statewide continue to see more COVID-19 patients, and on Monday there were 1,181 hospitalized with coronavirus, up 361 percent from July 1.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris told reporters Tuesday that he believes it’s inevitable that there will be outbreaks in schools, and said while masks in schools are controversial “they really shouldn’t be.” Masks are an effective way to prevent disease transmission, he said.
The public is invited to watch and participate, which will be streamed live on the Medical Association’s Facebook page.