BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Public Health says that hospitalizations of children in Alabama due to COVID-19 are at a record high.

ADPH reports that on Thursday, the state had a total of 9,266 COVID-19 cases in both children and adults in Alabama. That day alone, 71 pediatric patients were admitted to Alabama hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19, with three pediatric patients in the intensive care unit, including one on a ventilator.

Children’s of Alabama alone was caring for 35 children with COVID-19 on Thursday, six more kids than their record of 29, which was hit in Sept. during the wave of the Delta variant.

“In the crisis of higher virus transmission with the Omicron variant, immediate measures are critical,” ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said. “School-wide masking is at the top of the list of preventive steps that need to be implemented. Masks can still make a difference in school settings and allow students to remain in class, if properly used.”

According to the latest school dashboard, there were 16,035 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama schools this past week, while were 2,940 cases reported last week. Some schools have reinstated stricter mask policies or temporarily moved to virtual learning. Homewood City Schools announced Jan. 14 that masks will be required in all school buildings starting Jan. 18.

This story has been updated to reflect a clarification from the Alabama Department of Public Health on the number of COVID-19 cases to include both children and adults.