Alabama sees jump in COVID-19 test positivity

Coronavirus

FILE – This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. (NIAID-RML via AP)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Health officials on Tuesday urged people to take precautions, such as wearing masks and getting booster shots, after the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests more than doubled over the last week.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said in a news release that the state positivity rate for COVID-19 tests had more doubled over the past week to reach 22.1%. All but six counties are classified as having high levels of community transmission.

“We are seeing outbreaks happening all over town. We are hearing about groups of people coming into our clinics to be tested, who were at the same party or went to the same after-school event, go to the same church or maybe attended the same social gathering,” Dr. Rendi Murphree, an epidemiologist with the Mobile County Public Health Department, said Tuesday.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama tripled over the last two weeks to reach 1,747 new cases per day on Dec. 26, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Bert Eichold, the health officer for Mobile County, said over 50% of recently sequenced samples from COVID-19 patients came back as the omicron.

He said while early indications are that omicron causes milder illness, it is more contagious than earlier variants. He urged people to wear face masks, avoid large social gatherings, to get vaccinated and take booster shots if eligible.

“I’m tired of COVID. Everybody is tired of COVID but get vaccinated. It works.” Eichold said.

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