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Alabama COVID hospitalizations rise to 467

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose to 467 on Monday, up from about 50 two months ago, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the number of hospitalizations are “still manageable.” 

The state had about 3,000 daily hospitalizations at three points in the past two years.

While the state’s positivity rate — the percentage of tests taken that are positive — has increased recently to about 22%, Harris said that number and daily case numbers don’t carry the significance they previously did, largely because they don’t capture at-home tests, which have become more accessible. 

“For us, the numbers we feel confident are accurate are the hospitalizations and deaths,” Harris said about monitoring the virus.

“With the hospitalization numbers we have, we are confident that our hospital systems can manage those numbers, and we’re not seeing an increase in deaths,” Harris said. 

There have been 19,766 deaths in Alabama attributed to COVID, 3,019 this year.

What COVID looks like in the second half of the year will depend on people’s immunity and resistance levels, Harris said.

“… I think the fall is the question. About 100 million Americans got booster shots, but by the time fall gets here, most of those folks will be a year from their third shot.”

Vaccines are now available to children as young as six months. U.S. health officials last week announced a $3.2 billion deal by the Biden administration to purchase another 105 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in anticipation of a fall booster campaign, the Associated Press reported.

Harris said ADPH’s advice hasn’t changed. 

“The single best way to protect yourself and those around you is to be vaccinated and when you’re eligible to be boosted, please consider doing that,” Harris said. 

While the vaccines available now were made to target the original virus, they’re still protecting people from serious illness caused by new variants, Harris said.

“This is not going away, not anytime soon if ever,” Harris said. “So we’re just going to have to protect ourselves the same way we do for other infectious diseases.” 

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