An important marker used to determine the spread of COVID-19 is rising quickly in Alabama, where the percent of tests that are positive has increased by 76 percent in the last two weeks. Not surprisingly, new daily reported cases and hospitalizations are rising as well.
The more contagious omicron COVID variant quickly became the dominant strain in the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying Monday that omicron made up 73.2 percent of all samples analyzed.
Two recent studies out of Britain suggest that omicron is typically less severe than previous variants and is significantly less likely to result in hospitalizations, but Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, UAB’s director of infectious diseases, warned this week that much is still unknown about omicron.
Public health experts say the percentage positivity should be at or below five percent or cases are going undetected. Alabama’s average daily percent positivity over the week ending Dec. 15 was 5.5 percent, and by Tuesday had increased to 9.7 percent.
The state is seeing a similar rise in the number of new daily cases being reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Alabama’s seven-day average of new daily cases on Tuesday had increased 54.7 percent from two weeks before, with the state recording 905 new cases on Tuesday.
Jefferson County has seen a sharp rise in new daily cases reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The county’s seven-day average for new daily cases reached 185 on Tuesday, a 230 percent increase from two weeks before.
Mobile County as of Wednesday had averaged 50 new daily reported cases over the last week, a 100 percent increase over two weeks.
COVID hospitalizations statewide are increasing as well, but to a lesser extent. There were 432 hospitalized with COVID on Wednesday, a 28 percent increase from two weeks before.
Alabama has the third-lowest percentage of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the nation, and the second-highest COVID death rate per capita, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health experts sad the best way to protect oneself and those around them from COVID is to get vaccinated, and if eligible, get booster shots. Studies have shown that booster shots provide better protection from omicron than simply being fully vaccinated.