BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Alabama had another record-breaking day in the fight against COVID-19 with nearly 13,000 new cases of the virus have been reported in the last 24 hours.

The highly contagious Omicron variant is surging across the state. The Alabama Department of Public Health has confirmed nearly 40,000 new cases in the first 7 days of 2022. The positivity rate has risen to 43.6 percent with about two out of every five tests coming back positive.

The Medical Association of the State of Alabama says more variants are forming at this very moment especially as cases of COVID are high. It reports that vaccines should protect you from serious illness or death, but it can’t promise the same outcome for an unvaccinated person.

“This is a numbers game and when you have so many cases and you have a certain percentage that are going to hit the hospitals,” Dr. Aruna Arora said. “It really is just a concern for the wellbeing of the patients who fall within the category.”

Arora said the mask might be out of fashion but protecting yourself with a high-quality one can slow the virus down from replicating, reducing the potential for it to produce a more deadly variant.

The Alabama Hospital Association said there are now five times the number of people in the hospital compared to before the holidays, which were already full before this latest spike in cases. With fewer than 10 percent of hospital beds available, the association says the best thing to do is delay getting Omicron.

“The more time we have for us as a state to get access to more effective monoclonal antibodies and to get access to the oral medication packets in larger amounts to keep people out of the hospital,” Dr. Don Williamson said.

Williamson said if you plan to be indoors near a lot of people this weekend, you should wear a K95 or N95 mask that covers your nose and mouth for the highest protection.