HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama continues to see a “high” COVID-19 transmission rate, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).

And perhaps more significantly, the state’s “Community Level” measured by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is also “high” for much of North Alabama.

The CDC says “the COVID-19 community level is determined by the higher of the new admissions and inpatient beds occupied metrics, based on the current level of new cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.

The level designation is designed to reflect how a community is being affected by COVID-19. The CDC also recommends when there is a “high” community level as in much of North Alabama currently, people should wear a well-fitting mask or respirator indoors when in public. Only Lawrence and Marshall counties are in the yellow, or medium level.  Blount and Etowah counties are also yellow, and the surrounding counties down to Jefferson and Shelby are also listed as “high.”

The designation comes as the state’s COVID-19 transmission rate is down slightly – it’s now 27% – it had hovered just 30% for much of the summer.

Statewide hospitalizations are at 660 COVID-19 patients, a year ago the figure was over 2,300 patients.

Huntsville Hospital reports systemwide there has been an increase in COVID-19 patients over the past month, but the current totals are far below where they were a year ago.

As of Aug. 11, there were 117 COVID patients systemwide, on July 11 there were 86 COVID patients. But, on Aug. 11, 2021, there  were 291 COVID patients in the Huntsville Hospital system, 60 percent higher than Thursday’s reported figures.

State health officials also reported this week that Alabama has now seen 20,000 COVID-19 deaths overall.