HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama has seen 1.46 million COVID-19 cases since March 2020, and case rates are not slowing down much.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reports the state has nearly 538,000 cases in 2022 and that figure is only about 1,100 cases shy of last year’s total for the full year.

The state’s figures also show the community transmission rate remains high.

Successful COVID treatments have been developed, ADPH officials said, which is contributing to the fact that current COVID hospitalizations are far below the figures from the same period a year ago.  

“We still have a lot of COVID as you well know, our percent positivity is very high,” Dr. Karen Landers, medical director for the Alabama Department of Public Health, told News 19 Friday. “But we are not capturing at home tests, so we likely have more COVID than we think we do. I think the good piece of information is that at least at this point, when you look at our hospitalizations, we’re a little over 600 persons hospitalized, and we’ve had fewer deaths, over this last increase in COVID, over the past few months.”

Most of North Alabama is also in the red as far as “community level,” which measures case rates, staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and new hospitalization rates. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people wear masks indoors when out in public, when a county is at a “high” community level. But, that recommendation is not a mandate.

“I think the guidance should be followed,” Landers said. “I think the guidance is very important. Of course, at this point and time, people are going to make their own decisions, about COVID-19 as they have for quite a while, I think the challenge is continuing to remind people of the mitigation standards that we have, do work, and they do help.”

Figures show about half of the Alabama population is fully vaccinated for COVID-19, a number that Landers said should be higher.  

“It’s very concerning to me that we’re not in as good a control situation as we could be with a vaccine-preventable disease,” she said.

Landers also wants the public to know that there is a new FDA-approved vaccine that is traditional in its composition, it’s not the mRNA vaccine technology that was used in the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines.

“COVID is still with us, and we really urge people to get vaccinated,” Landers said. “I know there’s been a lot of discussion about people wanting a conventional vaccine, we’ve got it now. Novavax is out, Novavax is here and people waiting for a regular, traditional sub-unit vaccine, again, we’ve got that product in Alabama and it’s available.”

Those interested in a COVID-19 vaccine can find a nearby location at vaccines.gov.