From The Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — The Jefferson County Unified Command (JCUC), which is led by Dr. Mark Wilson, Jefferson County Health Officer, and Jim Coker, Director of Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, updated the public on information concerning the coronavirus pandemic and the current flu season.
Flu activity in the county has been slightly lower than the same time last year. The county has seen sporadic cases over the past three weeks, according to the JCUC. The county reminds people that it is not too late to get the flu shot.
As for coronavirus, the JCUC reports a rapid increase in cases in Alabama and across the U.S. Increased hospitalizations are expected due to Thanksgiving gatherings. Emergency Management leaders are concerned about overloading hospital systems. Because of the critical situation, health officials are asking residents to limit their Christmas and Hanukkah gatherings. In fact, the Jefferson County Department of Health strongly recommends celebrating the holidays with members of your own household only.
If you do plan to meet with family members, it is important to remember masking and social distancing of at least 6 feet apart. Limit the number of guests and speak with everyone ahead of time to set expectations for the event. Also, make hand sanitizer accessible for all guests and clean surfaces frequently.
Below are more tips for holiday gatherings:
If celebrating indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible. You can use a window fan in one of the open windows to blow air out of the window. This will pull fresh air in through the other open windows.
Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.
Have guests bring their own food and drink.
If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options.
If someone becomes ill before the event, they should not attend.
If someone becomes ill during the event, they should return to their home and move away from others. If a person begins to experience concerning symptoms, medical advice and evaluation should be obtained.
The JCUC offered the following tips to stay safe during the holiday shopping season if you are unable to shop online:
Use contactless services for purchased items, like curbside pick-up.
Shop in open-air markets (but still stay 6 feet away from others and wear a mask).
Follow all guidance posted at each store to maintain safety for all attendees.
Wear a cloth face covering or mask while out shopping (face coverings are required in all public places by the current statewide public health order).
Maintain at least 6 feet of social distance between yourself and other shoppers or store employees (this is also required in the state public health order).
Wash your hands frequently with either soap and water or alcohol-based hand gels.
If you are ill, do not go shopping.