Alabama health officer on omicron variant: ‘Spreading like wildfire’
A top Alabama health official said on Tuesday that the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant is “spreading like wildfire” as the state sees record numbers of new coronavirus cases.
“We are unfortunately not in a real good place right now. We are seeing the highest daily case numbers we have seen since the pandemic began,” Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said, according to The Associated Press.
“It is just spreading like wildfire,” he added, warning that “omicron will infect a very large number of people in Alabama before it finally subsides.”
The entire state of Alabama is currently considered to have a high rate of transmission, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). The state currently has a testing positivity rate of 38.5 percent.
Alabama last Wednesday recorded nearly 8,700 new cases, the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, surpassing the peak that was recorded during the surge in delta cases.
“We really need people to do the single most important thing they can do, which is to be fully vaccinated and boosted when it’s appropriate to do so,” Harris said.
While some early studies and anecdotal reports have suggested that the omicron variant may be milder than previous strains, Harris advised that people remain cautious. Harris stated that high transmission rates could still result in higher rates of hospitalization.
Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S., the AP noted, with less than 50 percent of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.