Alabama health leaders concerned, but not surprised by increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - In three weeks the Alabama Department of Public Health’s At Risk Map for spread of COVID went from six counties with red and very high risk of spread, to 26 counties. That’s a problem for Alabama health leaders, but they say it’s not a surprise.

“We knew the Delta variant was becoming more prevalent. We knew we had a substantially unvaccinated population,” Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association said.

Statewide Delta variant cases have grown to 56 but it’s expected to be even higher due to limited testing. The state’s COVID positivity rate is now up to 4.8% when weeks ago it closer to 3%. So why are we seeing this increase?

“Persons who are not vaccinated have completely abandoned the recommendation to wear masks and I remind people if you are not vaccinated you should be following all of the mitigation standards,” Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer with ADPH said.

Dr. Landers said traveling in and out of the state and being in large crowds is also contributing to the spread.

The Walker County EMA director became alarmed when Walker County went form green, for a low rate of spread to now red, on the ADPH map.

“My immediate response was oh my goodness. We have not seen it in a while here,” Regina Myers said.

Myers said Walker County was warned about the possible impact due to highly contagious Delta variant on their unvaccinated population. After seeing the red designation, Myers fired off a word of warning to all Walker County first responders.

“To let them know our numbers are starting to come back up and to make sure their protocols are back in place. Their mask, gloves, and what they had been doing the last year.” Myers said.

Dr. Williamson says UAB’s hospital numbers have gone from 5 to 24. Statewide COVID hospitalizations have gone from 180 to 252, COVID cases have climbed to about 500 a day.

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