State Health officer speaks at Rotary Club

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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State Health Director Dr. Scott Harris was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club on Monday.

Harris gave an update on the COVID-19 pandemic to a packed audience at the Cornerstone Presbyterian Church.

In an audience that included Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn, Selma City Councilwoman Lesia James, Dallas County Commissioner Jan Justice and Dallas County Circuit Court Judge Collins Pettaway Jr., Harris discussed the coronavirus.

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“We’ve never had anything like this before,” Harris said.  “It came out a week before Christmas, 2019 in Wuhon China. Nobody didn’t know what to think about it.  In the first week of January, people started to do tests.

“We’ve had a tough summer, we thought we were over the hump. Our numbers came up in July.”

Harris pointed out statistics about COVID.

“Studies show that 1 out of every 50 people will die from COVID,” Harris said. “We’ve had 5,000 cases of COVID a day and most of them are under investigation.”

Harris said 15,000 Alabama residents have died from COVID in the last 18 months.

“What’s more heartbreaking is that most of that number was not vaccinated since the vaccine was available,” Harris said.

Harris, who was named by the Alabama State Committee of Public Health on February 22, 2018, pointed out the reasons for the low numbers in the state.

“A lot of the problems in Alabama is for the rural areas,” Harris said. “Some of them can’t travel to get the vaccination. Some of them can’t afford to miss a day of work. A lot of people are afraid to get the shot because they don’t have anyone to call and tell them about the vaccination. There’s a lot of people who don’t think its safe.”

Harris praised Dallas County for its work regarding the COVID.

“Our hospitals, including the one in Dallas County, are doing incredible work,” Harris said. “We’re ahead of eight states to get the one shot. 2.1 million Alabama residents have gotten the shot. There’s 3.9 million Alabama residents who haven’t gotten the shot.”

Harris said washing hands constantly and wearing masks  are fine, but it doesn’t compare to taking the vaccination.

Harris, a Talladega native, doesn’t think COVID will go away in the near future.

“It will never go away, we’ll have to live with it,” Harris said.

Harris said the COVID could be looked upon as a historical event someday.

Harris is a graduate of Harding University in Arkansas, Harris attended medical school at UAB School of Medicine and served his residency and internship at Carraway Methodist Medical Center before returning to UAB to complete a fellowship in infectious diseases.

Four years ago, Harris was awarded a master’s degree in public health from the UAB School of Public Health with a concentration in health policy.