Alabama breaks more COVID records as omicron surges
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama continues to break records in the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, which shows no signs of slowing.
On Friday, the Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed another 12,972 new COVID cases, the most ever reported in a single day in the nearly two years the state has been battling the virus.
“It is spreading like wildfire,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said earlier in the week, noting that the virus will probably infect “everyone in the state” at some point and urging people to get vaccinated or boosted.
The percentage of tests that returned a positive result also climbed to a new record. On Friday, 43.6% of COVID tests in the past seven days were positive, according ADPH data. The state has broken that record every day since Dec. 27. It also dwarfs the nation-leading 24% Alabama had during the last surge, when the delta variant was dominant.
These numbers only tell part of the story, however.
“Following the number of cases tells us how hot this epidemic is in the community and its scolding hot right now,” according to Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert at UAB who believes we could be underestimating the number of cases due to a lot of people doing at-home COVID tests. He and other health experts say the hospitalizations tell us how many people are getting really sick.
Alabama’s hospitalization numbers have quintupled in three weeks from about 300 COVID inpatients to 1,528, as of Friday. The Alabama Hospital Association says that number includes 47 pediatric patients. There are just over 300 COVID patients being treated in ICUs, including nine children.
Hospitals around the state have suspended visitations and are urging people not to show up in their emergency departments looking to get tested for COVID.
Alabama’s public schools are also starting to report their first cases of the new year, alerting ADPH to 2,940 cases for the first week of 2022, up from the 750 reported before the Christmas break. The latest data does not include all school systems, including larger ones like Montgomery Public Schools.
The latest surge comes during the traditional time of year when influenza becomes a major health concern. There’s now an unofficial term, called “flurona,” for those who contract both flu and COVID at the same time.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were tallied over the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus swept the planet but is reporting that while there’s been a jump in cases, there have been fewer deaths as a result of the omicron variant.
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