AP – Alabama closed 2021 with a surge of COVID-19 cases as the extremely contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to sweep the nation.
Alabama on Thursday hit a new high for the seven-day average positivity rate— the percentage of COVID tests coming back positive — at 31.4%. It is the first time the seven-day average is over 30%.
All 67 counties in the state are now considered to have high levels of community transmission.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama has jumped over the past two weeks from 682 new cases per day on Dec. 14 to 2,742 new cases per day on Dec. 28, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Bert Eichold, the health officer for Mobile County, said Thursday that the highly contagious omicron variant is driving a rise in cases and hospitalizations there.
He said over 50% of recently sequenced samples from COVID-19 patients came back as the omicron varient.
Eichold said in a briefing:
“What we are really trying to do is avoid people getting sick, so the mask is extremely important. You need to get vaccinated. You need to get your booster shot.”
While early indications show that the omicron variant does not cause as severe illness as earlier variants, officials cautioned that the highly contagious variant will mean more people getting sick and some of those will get severely ill.
Dr. Rendi Murphree, an epidemiologist with the Mobile County Public Health Department, said Thursday:
“Even though it is less severe we will likely see many hospitalizations and deaths … ” Read more.