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State Health Officer: Alabama is not in a good place

Omicron continues to run rampant throughout Alabama.
The state’s health officer held a news...
Omicron continues to run rampant throughout Alabama. The state’s health officer held a news conference this morning giving an update on the status of COVID-19 in our state. Dr. Scott harris said the state of Alabama is not in a good place.(WBRC)
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 7:28 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Omicron continues to run rampant throughout Alabama.

The state’s health officer held a news conference Tuesday morning giving an update on the status of COVID-19 in our state.

Dr. Scott Harris said the state of Alabama is not in a good place. He said the state is reporting the highest daily cases of COVID since the pandemic started.

“Over the past 7 days, we’ve had numbers in the range of 8,000… 8,000…7,000…5,000…4,000…7,000 more yesterday. Several of those are actually records compared to what we’ve seen before last week. So, these numbers are higher than we’ve ever seen before,” Dr. Harris said.

The positivity rate in Alabama is at nearly 39%, meaning nearly four out of every 10 COVID tests taken in the state are coming back positive.

“Remember that we actually have no visibility on home antigen tests that people are doing. Those don’t get reported to us. So, undoubtedly, there are a lot of tests out there being done, many of them probably positive that we actually don’t even know about. So, we tend to think we’re undercounting the number of cases that we’ve seen,” Dr. Harris explained.

16,496 Alabamians have died of COVID, including 41 deaths reported Monday.

Just over half the population has received at least one shot of a COVID vaccine.

Dr. Harris said Omicron is the most contagious variant of COVID we’ve seen to date and it’s spreading like wildfire.

“It will infect everyone in the state at some point probably, or most of them. So, we really need people to do the single most important thing they can do to protect themselves, which is to be fully vaccinated and boosted when it’s appropriate to do that,” Dr. Harris said.

Studies out of the U.K. show the Omicron variant causes less severe illness and is half as likely to cause death compared to the Delta variant.

Dr. Harris said that’s good news, but he’s cautiously optimistic.

“If you have a variant that infects twice as many people, you can see your numbers turn out to be the same. You still have the same issues with a surge effecting your hospitals, and numbers of people getting sick or dying,” Dr. Harris said.

Dr. Harris added that we’re also seeing spikes in hospitalizations right now with more than 1,100 Alabamians hospitalized as of Monday.

He said that’s concerning because the hospital system is dealing with an unprecedented number of healthcare workers who are out with COVID.

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