A Message from Dr. Richard Friend, Dean of the College of Community Health Sciences

May 6, 2022

March of this year marked the two-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic.

Today in Alabama, COVID-19 positive cases are down, and hospitalizations are the lowest they have been in the past two years. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported that 90 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 as of April 1, 2022, one of the first times that fewer than 100 people were hospitalized since March 25, 2020 – the first day the health agency reported coronavirus hospitalizations across Alabama.

Restrictions on gathering in indoor public spaces and mask requirements are loosening, although masks are still required at doctor’s offices and health-care centers, including all University Medical Center locations.

Still, variants remain a concern. The BA.2 variant is a sub lineage of Omicron and appears to be more transmissible than its sister variant BA.1, although not necessarily more virulent. The new Omicron mutant, a descendant of the earlier super-contagious “stealth Omicron” has quickly gained ground in the United States. BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 29% of new COVID-19 infections nationwide near the end of April, according to data reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And there’s the possibility of waning immunity from previously administered COVID-19 vaccines. To that end, University Medical Center has begun providing second booster shots to eligible patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has called for second boosters (fourth shots) for people ages 50 and older, as well as those above the age of 12 who are immunocompromised. In addition, UMC continues providing initial series of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as first booster shots.

More than 19,200 people have died of COVID-19 in Alabama, the nation’s third highest death rate at nearly 395 fatalities for every 100,000 residents, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. We hope the current COVID-19 decline will continue, but, if not, UMC will be ready to keep our patients and our communities safe and healthy.

The College of Community Health Sciences operates University Medical Center and the Student Health Center and Pharmacy