COVID Cases Tick Up in Alabama, but Don’t Panic

Coronavirus illustration. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Alabama has been seeing an “uptick” in COVID-19 cases and positivity rates in the past few weeks, but a state health official said those aren’t necessarily signs that another spike is in the near future and he is “cautiously optimistic.”

There were 784 new COVID cases reported over the past seven days, for an average of 109 new cases per day as of Wednesday, the most recent day reported.

The state’s COVID positivity rate has increased from 2.2% at the first of the month to 3.4%.

“The slight uptick in the number of cases and the percent positivity is likely due to the changeover from the BA.1 omicron subvariant to the BA.2. However, this increase is not expected to be as significant as surges due to previous variants due to residual immunity from recent omicron infections and vaccinations.” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield, district medical officer for the northern third of Alabama.

Sixty-one people were hospitalized in Alabama with COVID Wednesday.

“But with a rise in cases there could be a rise in hospitalizations,” said Stubblefield, who added that most new COVID cases now are from the BA.2 Omicron subvariant.

And, he added “the numbers may settle back down.”

He pointed out that in mid-January, the state had nearly 3,000 patients hospitalized for COVID and the positivity rate was almost 47%.

Alabama’s overall community transmission level of the virus is calculated as moderate, The levels, which indicate the risk of being exposed to the virus in various locations, are moderate in 19 counties, including Jefferson County; high in Butler County; substantial in Cherokee and Lawrence counties; and low in the rest of the counties, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID Dashboard.

Jefferson County reported 16 new cases Wednesday and a positivity rate of 3.3%.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, in May 2020, almost 1.4 million cases of COVID have been reported in Alabama, and 19,524 people have died.

Stubblefield said the efficacy of prescriptions for Paxlovid and molnupiravir as well as antibody infusions have resulted in reduced hospitalizations for COVID.

“We are in good shape and we are cautiously optimistic,” Stubblefield said.

But there are people still getting sick and sometimes dying from the novel coronavirus, just fewer of them. The Alabama Department of Public Heath in a press release Thursday asked people to continue taking precautions. If you have symptoms of the infection, get tested and potentially treated. Get vaccinated if you aren’t already and contact your doctor about whether you need a booster shot. And continue to mask if you’re immunocompromised or are around others who are at particular risk from the virus, ADPH advised.