As Alabama continues marching toward a fuller reopening, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state continues marching upward.
But officials say it’s too early to determine whether the numbers are increasing because testing is increasing or more people are becoming infected.
A day after State Health Officer Scott Harris described infection numbers as “not as good as we could hope for” – which was also the same day the state had its worst COVID report card yet, posting 615 new cases and 19 deaths in a 25-hour period – a UAB doctor said Wednesday that people still need to take precautions.
“As we all know, Alabama has opened up and currently we are seeing an increase in our cases, particularly in hotspots such as Montgomery,” said epidemiologist Dr. Rachael Lee. “I believe Jefferson County had their highest number of cases yesterday that they’ve had this whole period of time and some of that may be reflective of testing. But it’s hard to tell at this stage.” Read more.
UAB announced Monday that more than 300 university staff members will be temporarily furloughed in an effort to offset significant financial losses due to COVID-19. UAB Medicine projects a $230 million loss through the end of September. Meanwhile, the university projects a $40 million loss. Read more.
If Dr. Frank Franklin had the opportunity to tell Gov. Kay Ivey what she should do about loosening restrictions on businesses and other public places, his advice would be simple: Don’t, at least not quite yet.
The retired epidemiologist and pediatrician, now a professor emeritus of public health at UAB, is not convinced that the spread of the COVID-19 virus is under control in Alabama or neighboring states — three of which are already relaxing restrictions on reopening businesses and public spaces — and doesn’t want to see the progress made so far reversed.
Instead, Franklin is hoping that Ivey will announce on Tuesday that the state will stay the course for now but revisit the situation on a weekly basis, keeping transparency in the process at the forefront. Read more.
UAB Hospital is taking a financial hit from COVID-19. Officials announced Friday a projected loss of $70 million per month due to fewer clinical visits, elective surgeries and hospital stays. Read more.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham and the biopharmaceutical company Altimmune Inc. will test a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the university announced today.
Testing of the vaccine, AdCOVID, which was developed by the company based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, will begin in mice during the second quarter of this year. That phase of testing, designed to show the immune response to the drug in mice, is expected to take one to two months, UAB said in announcing the collaboration.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is leading a new anti-viral drug trial in Wuhan, China to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Read more.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham will offer full tuition scholarships to some graduates of Birmingham City Schools as part of a new partnership with the City of Birmingham.
The city and UAB announced the scholarship program Thursday morning at a press conference.
“It makes a down payment on our city’s economic competitiveness,” Mayor Randall Woodfin says.
The Birmingham Promise Scholarship is part of a city initiative that plans to offer graduates of Birmingham schools full tuition to all in-state public universities and colleges. UAB is the first academic partner to support the Birmingham Promise with a scholarship. UAB estimates it’ll contribute $250,000 the first year, according to a spokesperson for the city. The Birmingham Promise Incorporated does not yet have an estimate on how much it’ll contribute. Read more.
Two high-ranking leaders from UAB today asked Jefferson County to invest with the Southside institution in making the Altec/Styslinger Genomic Medicine and Data Sciences Building a reality.
UAB President Ray Watts and Dr. Selwyn Vickers, the senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, asked commissioners during their committee meeting to consider putting $1 million per year for five years into the $70 million project.
The 140,000-square-foot building will house more than 50 research operations, which the pair said will produce annual revenue of $35 million to $55 million, or a total of $175 million to $300 million over five years.
But, they said, it’s not just about the money. Watts said the work there will lay the foundation for health care for the future of Birmingham, Jefferson County and beyond. Read more.