A surge driven by the highly contagious Delta variant is hitting local hospitals hard. As of August 3, 23 COVID positive patients were hospitalized in Marshall North and South and 3,300 new confirmed cases were reported statewide. Alabama’s positivity rate is now 22.1 percent, which has not been seen since the all-time high of 22.3 percent in January.

“This stuff spreads like wildfire,” said Dr. B.C. Maze of Arab, who makes it part of his duties as Marshall Medical Centers’ vice president of medical affairs to research the latest COVID information. Hospitalization numbers statewide have surpassed last summer’s peak, which topped out around 1,600 cases.

The risk posed by the Delta variant – which is 1000 times more contagious than the original virus - is worsened by the fact that so many people in Alabama are choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID. Alabama has the lowest vaccination rate in the U.S. among adults at just 34 percent being fully vaccinated. That ‘toxic soup’ could have deadly consequences in the local community.

“This is the perfect breeding ground for a surge,” he said.

For more on this story please pick up a copy of Thursday’s Tribune or purchase an e-edition.

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