COVID-19 rising in Alabama, experts believe cases are higher than reported

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama is seeing a rise in reported COVID-19 cases with a 15% positivity rate. It’s the most cases since the Omicron surge in January.

A few experts say that the actual positive case count is much higher.

One reason, many people are taking at-home tests. Those positive results are going unreported.

“The counted number is much more than what’s been said because a lot of people are doing home testing and the home testing isn’t going to be reported to the department of health or local authorities,” said Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist with Huntsville Hospital.

To get that count, patients have to go to a doctor’s office or pharmacy so they can report the tests to the Department of Public Health.

But, many testing sites are no longer free, it’s all dependent on insurance.

“You have five family members who have symptoms,” said Dr. Hassoun. “That’s a very costly business for them. The ones who cannot afford it will not get tested, unfortunately.”

This rise we’re seeing now is due to a subvariant of Omicron, BA.2 or BA.2.12.1. It’s more contagious than Omicron but it has the same intensity so not as many people are ending up in the hospital.

That doesn’t mean you won’t see long-term impacts from Long COVID.

“It can be an absolutely debilitating illness for others it’s a mild nuisance like someone who doesn’t have their smell back but for others, it’s persistent neurological symptoms that are disabling,” said Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Many doctors say a proper case count is really important because it helps inform leaders to enact accurate COVID policy recommendations. It also helps places like doctors’ offices get the resources they need for a possible surge.

Dr. Hassoun says the Fever and Flu clinic is still giving free COVID-19 tests. According to the Health and Human Services website, Walgreens and Walmart are supplying free COVID-19 tests as well.

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