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The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reported that 53,179 Alabamians tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. The spread of the omicron variant has been blamed for the higher numbers.

Historically, this surge in coronavirus cases is the fourth that the state has experienced in the pandemic, the others being: July 2020, Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021, and Aug. 2021. Of the four, the current rate of cases is by far the highest. There were over 14,000 cases per day on some days last week. In the August peak, the number of cases reached 6,772 on its worst day – and that was the steepest peak in cases that the state experienced during the pandemic – until now.

The positivity rate of testing in the past week was 45.9%.

Most people with the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus do not develop a serious case of COVID-19, but for a percentage of people, the virus can be dangerous. Hospitalizations have soared in the last week, with 2,669 Alabamians reportedly in the hospital with complications with COVID-19 on Saturday. That is up from 2,281 a week prior, 1,559 two weeks ago, 856 three weeks ago, and 412 four weeks ago on Christmas eve.

Deaths are a lagging indicator with COVID-19, yet ADPH is reporting that 163 Alabamians have died with COVID-19 this month. Some 9,475 Alabamians perished with COVID-19 in 2021, and 7,188 in 2020 – the first year of the pandemic in Alabama.

The latest surge has hit the schools particularly hard. ADPH reports that there were 26,260 cases in Alabama schools in the last week, up from 16,035 the week before. Due to the vast numbers of absences and staff shortages, some Alabama schools have resumed remote learning, including Huntsville. The Huntsville City School System reports that this will last from Monday through Friday, and students will return to classrooms on Jan. 31.

Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can get and spread the virus, but ADPH is still encouraging everyone eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. ADPH reports that only 2,784,653 Alabamians (out of 5.02 million residents) have gotten even one dose of the vaccine, and only 2,260,203 Alabamians have been fully vaccinated.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved three monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 as well as two antiviral pills. All of these are in extremely short supply and require a doctor’s referral.

If you have tested positive for the coronavirus, contact your doctor for your treatment options. For locations of treatments, ADPH has prepared a map of providers with treatments available.

If you desire a COVID-19 vaccination, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.

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