HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville Hospital continues to report COVID-19 patient levels in the teens, a trendline that has held steady for the past six weeks.

That comes even as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the map of the northeastern United States is marked by counties with medium and high levels of COVID-19.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield of the Alabama Department of Public Health said having a vaccine that has proven effective is making a difference. But, he added, because COVID is likely to be around for a long time, people need to focus on taking the necessary steps to avoid serious illness. He said the current trend is favorable, particularly compared to stretches in the past two years.

“We were at about 100 cases per day statewide in early April, we’re right now at just over 300 cases per day,” Stubblefield said. “Compare that to 15,000 cases per day in January. So, a slight increase in the number. If you look at the community levels on the CDC web page you’ll see Alabama is still in low risk, we’re still green across the board.”

But, Stubblefield said there are also factors that cause concern.

“The downsides are we had late summer peaks the last two years,” he said. “Number two, the peak of Omicron was back in January, now we are four months out from that. So, that infection-induced immunity may be waning. We know the variants are constantly changing.”

Stubblefield said for most healthy people COVID-19 is not a serious illness, but for others, it has proven to be deadly. Alabama has a vaccination rate of slightly more than 50 percent, he said.

“As we move forward in this pandemic, I don’t think we need to focus on herd immunity,” he said.  “I don’t think we need to focus on those measures that we may have talked about in the beginning. What we need to focus on is that our loved ones, are, or could be at risk. We could be at risk. You need to know your risk, then you need to make decisions based on your risk and the people you’re around.”

Looking at available COVID-19 resources, the U.S. government is making available up to eight free COVID-19 rapid tests. To acquire the free tests, visit covid.gov/tests or call 800-232-0233

For people looking for a vaccine or booster shot provider, the website vaccines.gov has a searchable database listing providers and locations, including pharmacies.

Alabama has seen 1.3 million COVID-19 cases since March 2020 and 19,633 covid-related deaths have been reported in the state.