HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As variant COVID cases continue to climb in Alabama, vaccination rates still remain low.
This is all happening while health orders start to lift. Governor Kay Ivey announced the "Safer Apart Order" will expire Monday, May 31st, and Alabama's 'State of Emergency' will expire on Tuesday, July 6th, 2021.
Our WZDX News reporter spoke with a local doctor on how to continue to protect yourself and others when these health orders end.
"As these orders expire, they're not gonna renew it, and that is concerning for us because we see it, for example, in other countries," says Huntsville Hospital Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Ali Hassoun.
Countries, like India, are currently experiencing a huge spike in COVID-related cases and deaths after lifting their health orders.
"They opened it up, but their rate of vaccination is really slow, and cases really get out of control. And that's really for us, is very concerning always," says Hassoun.
He believes this can be prevented with vaccination. So far, close to only 24% of eligible Alabamians are fully vaccinated.
"I really don't think we're going to get a big surge, because there are other states have done a good job with vaccinations. So, those who travel around and do things, their exposure will be less," says Hassoun.
Although Dr. Hassoun says a big spike in cases is less likely, he still says the return to normalcy will be tougher if not enough people are vaccinating and protecting themselves and others from the virus.
"But it's going to be lingering around, and we don't want COVID lingering around here because the longer it stays, the more mutation it can change and the more hospitalizations are gonna come out," says Hassoun.
Hassoun says the key takeaways are to get vaccinated and follow current CDC guidelines. "We always been saying if you're going to go into the major scenes, crowd, close spaces, close contact - make sure you put your mask on. And then avoid indoors as much as you can, if you can, especially if you're not vaccinated," says Hassoun.