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COVID-19 positivity, hospitalizations take a sharp rise in Alabama

The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has risen at an alarming rate over the past two weeks.

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The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has risen at an alarming rate over the past two weeks, with hospitalizations related to COVID-19 infection at levels not seen since September at a time in the pandemic when the number was decreasing, according to the most recent data from the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The current state positivity rate, or the percentage of COVID-19 tests being reported as positive to health officials, is 14.5 percent as of Wednesday and rising from the previous weeks. The previous Wednesday, the positivity rate was 11.2 percent — an increase of 3.3 percentage points. From the beginning of the month, the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests has increased by 5.9 points.

As a number, the most recent data shows 4,269 out of 29,429 COVID-19 tests reported back to ADPH were positive.

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests reported to ADPH is a reliable data point when assessing the current scope of COVID-19 infections. Still, it produces an incomplete picture, given the large number of at-home tests not being reported to health officials. Due to this, the true number of COVID-19 tests is difficult to ascertain.

The current number of individuals in area hospitals due to COVID-19-related illnesses is 392, with that number growing at a relatively stable rate since the first of the month, according to statistics from ADPH. On Dec. 1, 264 individuals were hospitalized due to COVID-19, with that number decreasing to 192 the following day, before jumping up to 252 individuals by Dec. 3.

The highest level of COVID-19 hospitalizations before Wednesday was on Dec. 15, when 359 individuals were receiving treatment in area hospitals for COVID-19-related illnesses. That number dropped to 293 individuals the following day and 295 the day after that, before jumping back up to 352 individuals last Sunday.

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The current level of hospitalization is roughly the same as it was this September, at a time when all COVID-19 datasets were decreasing.

Health officials warned in October that this winter could produce a “triple-demic” of flu and RSV cases, coupled with the potential rise in COVID-19 cases due to the increasing number of variants of the virus circulating among the public.

In the most recent report from ADPH, 35 influenza-associated deaths — 32 non-pediatric and three pediatric — have been reported to the agency so far this flu season.

Despite this, the percentage of reported influenza-like illnesses is decreasing, according to the report, with 4.12 percent of the current statewide rate of illness. That percentage is still well above the baseline of 3.27 percent.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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