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Alabama lawmakers, healthcare providers weigh impact of omicron variant

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Alabama lawmakers are trying to assess the impact of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in the upcoming legislative session. House leadership will meet today with the Alabama Department of Public Health to discuss safeguards during meetings.

Doctor Jeanne Marrazzo studies infectious diseases at UAB. She says her hospital is more experienced now when it comes to handling the heavy burden of new COVID-19 patients, but people still need to be on guard…

“This virus is just weird,” stated Marrazzo. “It’s a weird virus that has been unpredictable, and has done things that we haven’t seen with other respiratory viruses. So, I would really just respect. And this is when you could really use that advice.”

Alabama healthcare providers say traditional COVID-19 treatments like monoclonal antibodies don’t work on the new Omicron variant. Doctor Marrazzo says the mutating virus remains unpredictable but at least her hospital is better experienced when it comes to handling it…

“Are we prepared? We are better prepared than we have been,” said Marrazzo. “We got the drill down. We know how to cohort patients. We know how to move patients to areas to protect people. We also have backup unfortunately. We have many backup teams if we need to bring in folks.

The Mobile area is reporting five thousand new cases of COVID-19 just between Christmas and New Year’s. Alabama’s death toll stands at over 16,000, which is the third highest death rate from the coronavirus in the nation. The state still ranks near the bottom for vaccinations with less than 50% of the population immunized.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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