CONTRIBUTED BY EAH
Since last December, East Alabama Health has provided more than 3,000 monoclonal antibody infusion treatments to people with COVID-19 in an effort to help them recover more quickly and, in most cases, to prevent hospitalization. These have taken place at East Alabama Medical Center, EAMC-Lanier, Auburn University Medical Clinic and occasionally in the emergency departments at both hospitals.
However, these kind of infusions have been put on hold as of yesterday because of information received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources (HHS) that indicates the current two treatment options show a markedly reduced effectiveness against the Omicron variant. A newer monoclonal, Sotrovimab, however, has been shown to be much more effective against the Omicron variant, which is now the dominant strain in the U.S.
At this time, a very limited amount of Sotrovimab will be available for distribution next week, with another 300,000 doses becoming available for national distribution in January. That’s when East Alabama Health expects to receive a shipment, but an exact date is unknown. Until then, COVID infusions will not be available.
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to be extra cautious during their holiday gatherings in hopes of avoiding the contracting or transmitting of COVID-19. Residents are also reminded that vaccination remains the best option for the prevention of COVID-19, or the likelihood of a mild illness in the event of a breakthrough case.
VISITATION LEVEL CHANGING TO RED
Due to our community’s COVID positivity rates, our visitation level is changing to red, effective immediately. Learn more about our visitation levels here: www.bit.ly/3eqSKKc
Our Emergency Departments are currently seeing record volumes due to people seeking routine, non-emergent COVID testing. Please use the emergency room for true medical emergencies. If you suspect you may have COVID and have minor symptoms, please contact your health care provider or an urgent care facility for a COVID test.
If you suspect you have COVID and have any of the more severe symptoms listed below, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) advises you to seek medical attention immediately:
· trouble breathing
· persistent pain or pressure in the chest
· new confusion
· inability to wake or stay awake
· bluish lips or face
ADPH also advises calling your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you. If you have a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 and notify the operator that you have or think you might have COVID. If possible, put on a mask or cloth face covering before medical help arrives.
Health officials urge the public to continue taking the following steps to protect against COVID-19, including variants like Omicron:
· Get vaccinated and if eligible get a booster. To find a vaccine near you, visit vaccines.gov
· Wear well-fitting masks in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor settings.
· Stay at least 6 feet from other people, especially if you are at higher risk of getting very sick.
· Get tested if you have symptoms, have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, have traveled or have been in a setting where you may have been exposed.
· Stay home if you are sick.
· Wash hands frequently.
· Stay away from crowds.
· Improve ventilation in your home and workplace.
· Take extra care to avoid exposure to the virus if you have underlying risk factors or live with someone who does.