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Pike County COVID cases surge

Pike County added nearly 50 new cases of COVID 19 on Wednesday, as Alabama reported one of the highest single day increases since tracking began in March.

Alabama added 5,016 new cases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s 10 a.m. update. Pike County added 49 new cases, bringing its total to 1,990 with 23 confirmed deaths. The county’s 14-day positive rate is 44.97%.

Alabama has more than 356,820 confirmed cases with 2,804 confirmed hospitalizations as of Wednesday.

Alabama, long one of the unhealthiest and most impoverished states in America, has emerged as one of the nation’s most alarming coronavirus hot spots.

Alabama ranked sixth on the list of states with the most new cases per capita over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University. Alabama’s latest average positivity rate — the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus — is almost 40%, one of the highest figures in the country. And the state is seeing an average of 46 deaths per day, up from 30 on Dec. 14.

While ICUs nationwide were at 78% capacity during the week of Dec. 18-24, Alabama’s were 91% full, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. As of last week, 15 Alabama hospitals had intensive care units that were at or above capacity, and the ICUs at six more hospitals were at least 96% full.

On Tuesday, 2,804 people were in Alabama hospitals with COVID-19, the highest total since the pandemic began.

Experts worry the strain will only increase after the holidays because of new infections linked to travel and gatherings of family and friends.

“I think we are in dire shape. I really do,” said Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hospital Association. “I fear our Christmas surge is going to be much worse than the Thanksgiving surge.”

In another sign of how readily the virus can spread, the first reported U.S. case of the COVID-19 variant that’s been seen in the United Kingdom has been discovered in Colorado.

The variant was found in a man in his 20s who is in isolation southeast of Denver and has no travel history, state health officials said Tuesday. Scientists in the U.K. believe the new variant is more contagious than previously identified strains.

In all, the coronavirus has killed more than 335,000 people across the U.S., including over 4,700 in Alabama. Places such as California and Tennessee have also been hit especially hard in recent weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.