COVID In Alabama: One Year Later
March 13, 2020 was a day that changed everything as Alabama’s first coronavirus case was confirmed in Montgomery County. Things like social distancing and face masks quickly became a big part of everyday life.
“We had a pandemic plan, just no one thought they’d ever have to use it,” shared Montgomery City/County EMA Director Christina Thornton.
The Emergency Operation Center at Montgomery’s EMA has been the hub for the local response to the pandemic. It started with PPE supply distribution, then moved to testing clinics and now mass vaccination clinics vaccinating more than 9,000 people in a two-week period.
The healthcare industry tackled the pandemic head-on. Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson says he is amazed how hospitals continued to bend, but not break as COVID cases and patients surged. He thinks back to the first two weeks of January, just two months ago, with 3,000+ patients in the hospital and almost two weeks with less than 100 available ICU beds across the state.
“There was no obvious light at the end of that tunnel,” Dr. Williamson explained.
Then, a glimmer of hope in the form of COVID-19 treatments and eventually a vaccine that is available to everyone. Alabama has hit the 1 million vaccine doses administered milestone and the numbers will continue to climb, which State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says eventually will lead to herd immunity.
“Someone who gets sick just does not have a susceptible pool of people around them to transmit the disease to so the disease kind of stops,” he explained.
As we look forward to post-pandemic days, Dr. Harris says there are lessons to be learned for all of us.
“I hope that they would be willing to stop and think and say are my actions are they worth it if I’m going to put at risk my parents, my grandparents,” Dr. Harris said.