Alabama’s COVID cases, hospitalizations rising again

Alabama's counties are reporting higher rates of community transmission of COVID-19 with those...
Alabama's counties are reporting higher rates of community transmission of COVID-19 with those in red being high and orange being substantial, as of Dec. 21, 2021.(Source: Alabama Department of Public Health)
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 11:58 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is once again on the rise, and the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging residents to get vaccinated.

ADPH said all eligible residents should get vaccinated or receive booster doses. Those who are already vaccinated can get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible, which is six months after the second shot of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or two months after the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said it is important to take steps to keep your loved ones, especially those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, safe.

“During this joyous holiday season, keep the health and safety of all Alabamians, especially people of advanced age, those with underlying risk factors, and young children in your family and community in mind by following COVID-19 prevention measures,” Harris said.

To date, 859,650 Alabamians have contracted COVID-19 and 16,368 have died since the pandemic first reached the state in early 2020.

In 2020 there were 387,503 cases and 7,185 deaths. That’s fewer than the 472,147 cases and 9,183 deaths reported in 2021, when vaccines were widely available.

“Regrettably, the 2020 holiday season ended with a surge of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths,” Harris added.

2021 appears to be trending upward, as well, with the omicron variant spreading faster than previous variants like delta. Omicron, though not yet the dominant strain in Alabama, was first detected in the state about a week ago. Experts are also warning that the common monoclonal antibody treatments aren’t effective against the latest variant.

Currently, the state is reporting a test positivity rate of 8.4%. ADPH’s data and surveillance maps shows multiple counties once again reporting high community transmission rates.

Additionally, hospitalizations are up 50% from mid-November levels. Currently, about 400 people are hospitalized with COVID. That’s still down from the summer surge that topped 3,000 inpatients, but still cause for concern, Harris said Monday night in a conference call with the Medical Association of Alabama.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get tested with a nasal test, according to ADPH. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, wait at least 3 to 4 days after exposure before getting tested.  After testing, the state recommends persons stay home and isolate until they received their results.

ADPH also recommends testing as a PCR (nasal swab) test only. Blood tests for antibodies are not currently recommended for determining illness status.

The state also recommends the following to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wearing a well-fitting mask in indoor public places
  • Isolating yourself or family members when sick
  • Seeking medical attention if concerned about being infected
  • Washing hands frequently
  • Ensuring good ventilation.

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