ALABAMA – National health agencies report they are keeping an eye on a few new variants of COVID-19. Alabama health officials say they’re beginning to see an increase in COVID-related inpatients in hospitals over the last month.

However, The Alabama Hospital Association said we are nowhere close to what we’ve seen in the past.

Don Williamson, President and CEO of the hospital association, tells News 19 the state saw about 150 COVID-19 inpatients by the end of July. But during the month of August, it’s gone up to about 300.

COVID-19 symptoms appear to have remained mostly the same: cough, headache, muscle aches, runny nose and fatigue.

Williamson tells News 19 that even with the slight rise in the number of cases, the state is hardly seeing any COVID-related deaths.

“I think, yes, we’re seeing more COVID hospitalizations,” Williamson said. “I think this is consistent with more COVID transmission in the community. But I don’t think this rises to the level of concern and anxiety that we’ve had before when we had thousands of people in the hospital and couldn’t find an ICU bed. Actually, I think it’s fairly predictable.”

The Alabama Hospital Association says three things are largely contributing to an increase in COVID cases:

  • It has been 6-12 months since many people had their last vaccine booster
  • New strains
  • Because of the hot weather, more people have been staying inside allowing for easier transmission of the virus.

Williamson says there is a new vaccine coming out next month, a booster that’s going to be specifically targeted to provide protection from the latest variants.