HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are fueling a significant rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state.

According to Dr. Don Williamson the President of the Alabama Hospital Association, with COVID-19 creeping up to these levels once again, it’s important for people in Alabama to know how to stay protected against the coronavirus.

For the first time since the original Omicron surge, hospitals across the state have a total of
563 COVID-19 patients, a number that hasn’t been reported since early March.

“Depending on where we are in the spread of BA.5, we are likely to continue to see this rise,” Dr. Williamson said. “I read an article that suggests that we can most certainly predict a major fall surge across the United States.”

The worry among medical professionals is if these hospitalizations will keep increasing as the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to go up. However, experts believe Covid treatments and medications are helping with severe illnesses.

“While I don’t think we get to the 3,000 or 2,500 that we’ve seen in previous surges.” Dr. Williamson said. “We can certainly see this increase over the next several weeks. And get to 700 or even to 1,000.”

Williamson said that 53% of patients being treated in Alabama hospitals for COVID-19 are unvaccinated. He adds that BA.4 and BA.5 are highly contagious and can infect those who are already vaccinated or those who have already been infected.

Experts believe getting more Alabamians vaccinated can help with the surge.

“If we can increase the number of people having been vaccinated, get boosted especially if they are eligible for a second booster, we can continue to drive down hospitalization rates and probably mitigate some of the effects of increase community transmission,” Dr. Williamson said.

This increase in cases and hospitalizations are the reason why medical professionals are urging Alabamians who live in a community with a high transmission rate to consider masking up.