DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Omicron variant is continuing to sweep the nation as the positivity rate rises, sitting at 43.6% in Alabama as of Friday afternoon.

“The positivity rate is much higher than we were used to with Delta,” Southeast Public Health District Administrator, Corey Kirkland said. “This variant was reported early on to be much more transmissible, and I think it’s proving that every day. We have certainly seen an uptick in the number of cases. We’ve seen requests for testing go up, and in some cases, we’ve seen the request for vaccines go up.”

In the past week, hospitalizations in the area have gone up. Despite the local COVID cases rising due to the Omicron variant, the hospitalizations do not compare to the numbers seen during the Delta variant surge.

“We are not seeing quite the spike in hospitalizations with this one as we saw with the other one,” Kirkland said. “With Delta, we had well over 200 people in our hospital just in our local area for several weeks. We are running just a little under 100 total patients COVID-related. So, we’re not nearly at the hospitalization rate that we saw with Delta.”

While the number of hospitalizations is lower than what we saw with the Delta surge, those numbers are continuing to rise in the Southeast, but a peak might be on the horizon.

“We are seeing an uptick in cases in the hospital, so I don’t want people to kinda ignore this variant, or not take it seriously,” Kirkland said. “Be thankful that this will be much less severe. It may peak very soon, and that would be great if we can get through January and February would look much better for businesses, for schools, for everybody.”