DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — With the state COVID-19 positivity rate almost doubling the percentage it was last week the question on many Alabamians’ minds is, are hospitals around the state prepared for another COVID-19 surge?

According to Danne Howard, the Deputy Director at the Alabama Hospital Association hospital around the state has become accustomed to dealing with an influx of COVID patients.

“We are watching closely and hospitals are preparing,” Howard said. “We have become nimble to be able to stand up additional areas to treat COVID patients as we need to do that.”

The fear with the next COVID surge in Alabama, staffing. Currently, hospitals around the state are seeing a number of essential staff members out of work due to being positive for omicron or the flu.

“The staffing issue is going to be perhaps more limiting than it has in the past,” Howard said.

Last summer at the height of the COVID-19 spike, Alabama hospitals received help from both the national guard and traveling nurses to help care for COVID patients. Although they hope that won’t be the case hospital workers around the state have been prepared for the what if.

“The emotion of having to potentially go through another surge when we have not yet recovered from the summer surge in terms of staffing or the exhaustion level,” Howard said.

Fifty-two of the state’s 67 counties are listed as high for the spread of the coronavirus and with the state of Alabama’s COVID positivity rate over 18 percent cases aren’t the only thing expected to increase.

On Monday, there were 528 patients fighting COVID-19 in hospitals across Alabama, which is up from the 396 reported last week.

And with the state positivity rate almost doubling what it was last week, state medical experts are advising Alabamians to remain cautious and are emphasizing the importance of self-testing COVID at-home kits to help reduce the spread.

Even though not widely available, medical experts tell WDHN self-testing kits could help significantly if a new COVID-19 surge happens in Alabama and because omicron symptoms can look and feel like the common cold, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people need to take extra precautions.

“We are all on edge and prayerful that we won’t head into a situation that looks like this past summer,” Howard said.