Alabama health officials say COVID and flu cases down after spike in early January

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama health officials are tracking lower levels of COVID-19 and influenza compared to earlier this year, but said it was still important to take precautions.

The state saw an uptick in COVID in early January, but those from the Alabama Department of Public Health said cases have leveled off in recent weeks.

Alabama is reporting about 1,000 COVID cases a day, up from about 1,500 a few weeks ago, according to ADPH’s Dr. Wes Stubblefield.

Stubblefield said the increase at the start of the year was likely due to several factors, including new variants and holiday gatherings.

“It obviously didn’t help that there were a lot of people nearby and the weather was cold and people were indoors and all the other things you can imagine,” Stubblefield said.

Most counties are currently at medium or low community COVID levels. As for the flu, Stubblefield said Alabama hit its peak in early winter, which has since subsided.

“Currently all but one of our public health districts are below this benchmark, although unfortunately we had 115 flu-associated deaths, four pediatric and the remainder adult,” Stubblefield said.

Statewide hospitalizations are also down.

“Things are better now than they were about two weeks ago,” said Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson.

Williamson said about 450 people are hospitalized with COVID and about 50 with the flu right now. That’s down from around 700 in total at the start of the month. He said the biggest challenge right now is the limited staff.

“I think we would be very stressed to handle a 3,000 spike that we did with Delta, which we did with the initial variant,” Williamson said. “Could we handle 1,000, 1,500? Probably, but it would be difficult.

Williamson said there was a shortage of nurses and all hospital positions. He said it resulted in longer wait times in the emergency department and units that couldn’t handle as many patients.

Both doctors say to continue taking precautions in high-risk settings. They advise that it’s not too late to get a flu shot, as some flu seasons can stretch into spring.


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