OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Omicron Subvariant BA.5 continues to surge in Alabama as hospitalizations increase weekly. As of Monday, July 18th, there were 625 confirmed COVID patients in Alabama hospitals compared to 295 hospitalizations just one month ago, on June 18th. The subvariant is the most dominant strain; it’s highly transmissible and is the only strain the CDC has currently classified as a “variant of concern.”

East Alabama Health is also seeing an increase after a relatively quiet spring. At times the hospital had zero hospitalizations in March and April. However, on July 18th, they had 23 patients in the hospital with COVID. Thankfully, none are on vents.

Nearly three million Alabamians have one or more vaccinations protecting them against severe illness. Prior infection is also providing protection against severe illness. Anti-virals and antibody treatments are helping to keep many out of the hospital.

“It’s still not anything to take lightly. We still need to practice the things we have learned before, handwashing, social distancing, and masking when necessary,” said EAMC’s John Atkinson.

Based on high transmission levels, Alabama Health urges indoor masking and extra precautions if you’re at increased risk for severe illness. Keep in mind cases are underreported due to asymptomatic disease and at-home testing. Please ensure your vaccines are up to date – and stay home if you feel sick and test.