New COVID-19 variant driving cases in Alabama – WBRC

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – XBB.1.5 is the first new COVID-19 variant since Omicron and is driving up cases across the country.
Dr. Wesley Willeford is the Medical Director of Disease Control at the Jefferson County Health Department. He said XBB.1.5 is the most contagious variant of COVID-19 we have seen so far.
Symptoms of the new variant are comparable to previous variant’s such as fatigue and loss of taste and smell.
Jefferson County has recently averaged 220 new COVID-19 cases per day.
“I do think between the holidays and some new variants of COVID-19 that are becoming more predominant, I think we will see those cases go up a good bit more over the next two months or so,” said Dr. Willeford.
Dr. Don Williamson is the President of the Alabama Hospital Association. He said two weeks ago, there were 400 COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state. This week there are nearly 650.
“We are seeing now rising rates of positivity in the community and seeing that manifest in the increasing number of people being hospitalized,” said Dr. Williamson.
Williamson does not anticipate this variant to reach hospitalization levels that are comparable to previous variants but is concerned about the surge’s impact on the healthcare system’s infrastructure as staffing continues to pose challenges.
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