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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — State and local health officials warn Alabamians that although vaccination rates are slowly increasing, large public gatherings should still be approached with caution.

With the state positivity rate over 20%, it’s higher than what health officials would like to see and with Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, health officials are worried about what they may see in the weeks after holiday celebrations.

Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health says, “We are definitely in the middle of a significant surge,” adding with other holidays on the horizon, mixing households and being around people who may be only partially or not vaccinated at all is a risk, in any group setting.

“Different groups, different households, different regions of the states or even different states, that’s just a multiplier for the risk of COVID,” Dr. Landers told News 19.

With the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, Dr. Landers says we can’t vaccinate our way out of where we are right now. With 46% percent of the state partially vaccinated, it will take weeks for those who recently got their first shot to become fully vaccinated.

Dr. Hafsa Siddiqui, an infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital, says with large gatherings and many partially vaccinated, she worries of what we could see in the weeks following the Labor Day holiday.

“My worry is that we’re going to run out of capacity in the hospital, that we’re going to run out of the ICU beds. We’ve already run out of some of the medications that we were commonly using in very severe cases,” Dr. Siddiqui said.

Dr. Siddiqui adds that it’s the duty of the community to help stop the spread of the virus; and the best weapons we have against the virus are outside of the hospital.

“Isolating ourselves, avoiding the crowds, it’s by getting vaccinated. You have much stronger tools outside the four walls of the hospital that is available to you right now that you can get it, which is the vaccine,” Dr. Siddiqui said.

Both doctors agree that if you must be out in a crowded area, whether you’re fully or partially and especially if you’re not vaccinated, wear your masks in indoor settings, at large gatherings and opt for the outdoor environment.