Alabama reaches three-month high for COVID cases, positivity rate: Week in review

Don’t look now, but COVID is coming back in Alabama – especially in the Birmingham and Huntsville areas.

Several COVID-19 metrics are up throughout the state this week, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health. That includes case counts, positivity rate and – importantly – hospitalizations.

The statewide COVID positivity rate – the percent of tests performed in a 7-day period that come back positive – reached 9.4% as of Thursday, the highest it’s been in three months, although still well below where it was during the initial omicron wave in January.

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The positivity rate has more than doubled since the start of May, when the rate was well below 5%, long considered a key threshold for managing the virus. The importance of that metric has changed somewhat since at home COVID tests became widely available, but the trend of increasing positivity rate is far from good news.

The 7-day average for new cases in Alabama also reached a recent high, climbing to more than 450 reported cases per day. That’s the highest since early March and the tail end of the massive omicron surge.

The current numbers remain far below the highs seen back during the peak of that omicron surge – there were times when Alabama was reporting well over 10,000 cases per day. But in most of Alabama, things are trending in the wrong direction again.

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The state posted nearly 3,200 new cases this week, the highest weekly case count since mid-March. And like the positivity rate, the 7-day average for new cases has more than doubled here since the start of May.

Finally, COVID hospitalizations also appear to be on the rise, though thankfully those numbers are still relatively low. There were 100 people in Alabama hospitals with COVID-19 as of Friday, according to ADPH. That’s a significant increase since the start of the month, when there were 59 COVID hospitalizations statewide, and it’s the first time there have been at least 100 COVID patients hospitalized since March 29. The state saw nearly 3,000 patients with COVID in hospitals during the winter surge.

Do you have an idea for a data story about Alabama? Email Ramsey Archibald at rarchibald@al.com, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyArchibald. Read more Alabama data stories here.

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