While cases of COVID remain relatively low on campus an in the community, UAB experts say the latest variant transmits easily and will quickly become the dominant strain. It is not linked to sudden spikes in cases or hospitalizations locally, but precautions are advised for those who are more vulnerable or unvaccinated.
For the week ending May 15, positive cases in the UAB community were reported for 16 students, 12 non-clinical employees and 40 clinical employees, up from seven, 14 and 31, respectively, the previous week. UAB Hospital reported eight in-patients were positive with active COVID on May 16, up from four the prior week.
“This is not unexpected,” said epidemiologist Suzanne Judd, professor in the UAB School of Public Health and a key adviser on UAB’s COVID-19 Incident Command Committee. “We expected to see cases gradually rise again by June, based on how the viral variant has been behaving in the Northeast.”
The newest strain, BA.2.12.1, is another subvariant of Omicron, and the risk of transmission in Jefferson County is low (green) — as it is in all counties in Alabama — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker.
“Fortunately, we have the tools to fight COVID as never before,” said UAB Division of Infectious Diseases Director Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D. “Paxlovid is proving to be very effective at preventing severe illness, and we now have enough to treat the patients we are seeing.”
UAB works closely with public health and infectious disease experts to monitor changes in risk for infection and severity of disease and will adjust its health and safety strategies as needed to protect the campus community.
“Vaccination continues to be the very best way to protect against the severe effects of COVID,” Judd said. “And as cases pick up in the community, individuals who are concerned or have a need for enhanced safety may choose to mask and social distance.”
Free vaccines are available for employees and students. Learn more on UAB United.