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COVID mitigation for the World Games in Birmingham uncertain

A World Games spokesman told APR that officials are monitoring COVID and will follow guidelines of local public health authorities.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin introducing World Games 2022 mascots, Vulcan and Vesta.

It’s not yet clear what, if any, COVID mitigation measures will be in place when thousands travel from across the globe to Birmingham for the World Games in July. 

There aren’t current plans to require face masks or limit crowd sizes at the games, according to WBHM. It’s also unclear how much, if any, of the $2.7 million allocated to the games by the Alabama Legislature in the state’s general fund budget approved during the last regular session will be used for COVID mitigation. 

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s office referred APR’s questions regarding the World Games and COVID to World Games officials. 

Jeff Emerson, a spokesperson for the World Games 2022, responded in a message to APR that the World Games continues working with local, state, national and international officials and health experts “to ensure the Games are safe and secure for the athletes, spectators, media and others who will attend.”

“Working with these partners, we closely monitor the status of COVID-19 cases and will follow health and safety guidance of local public health authorities. All travelers to the United States are required to provide proof of vaccination and COVID protocols for all athletes, coaches and officials residing at the Athlete Villages are being finalized,” Emerson continued. “In addition, masks will be available to all attendees who request masks. The World Games 2022 will utilize available funding for these and other important measures to protect public health.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Thursday warned that although COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are low, the pandemic isn’t over, and urged the public to get vaccinated and take precautions. 

“Slightly more than half of Alabama’s residents are vaccinated, and some residents who have been previously infected have acquired immunity, yet it is unknown whether and when new variants will arrive and how harmful they will be,” the department said in a press release. 

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The department encouraged people to get tested as soon as symptoms occur, or see their healthcare provider to determine if they’re candidates for therapeutic treatments. Oral antiviral treatments should be taken within five days of the beginning of symptoms to be effective. 

“COVID-19 tests can be performed at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics or health departments. One convenient way to test for COVID-19 is to have home tests available. Two sets of free at home COVID-19 tests are available at no cost through,” the release state. 

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris himself tested positive for COVID earlier this month. 

“Fortunately, I am fully vaccinated and have already received my second booster shot,” Harris said in a statement. “I am having only mild symptoms and will be working from home this week while remaining isolated according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”

Harris said while case numbers have declined recently in Alabama “this serves as a reminder that COVID-19 continues to circulate in our state.”

“The single best way to prevent serious illness or death is to be fully vaccinated and boosted,” he said.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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