Alabama’s average daily COVID cases reported to the Alabama Department of Public Health over the last week broke 10,000 on Monday for the first time ever, reaching 10,047 as the more contagious omicron variant explodes across the U.S. That average more than doubled the previous high of 4,697 set on Sept. 2 during the delta variant surge.
All of Alabama’s 67 counties are classified by the Alabama Department of Public Health as having high levels of community transmission, and the rush of cases is resulting in increased hospitalizations.
Alabama’s COVID hospitalizations reached 1,776 on Monday, a level not seen since Sept. 21 and a 239 percent increase from two weeks ago.
DCH Health System’s hospitals in Tuscaloosa and Northport are seeing a sharp increase in the number of COVID patients, rising from 14 on Dec. 28 to 91 on Monday, a 550 percent increase.
East Alabama Health, which operates hospitals in Opelika and Auburn, on Monday was just one COVID patient shy of the system’s all-time high of 62 patients, set in July 2020, East Alabama Health said in a COVID update Monday.
The state’s seven-day average of percent positivity, or the percentage of COVID tests that are positive, was 41.1 percent on Monday. Public health experts say it should be at or below 5 percent or cases are going undetected.
Alabama has the third-lowest percentage of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the second-highest number of COVID-19 deaths per capita in the nation according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alabama’s ICU beds were at 78.4 percent capacity on Monday, an improvement from the 90 percent capacity on Thursday (although the number of hospitals reporting varies from day to day) but the percentage of those beds filled with COVID patients almost doubled in that time, from 18.4 percent Thursday to 30 percent on Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Alabama hospitals are seeing a surge in patients flooding emergency rooms, prompting UAB Hospital and East Alabama Health to ask the public not to visit emergency rooms seeking COVID tests unless ill enough to require medical care.