Dothan clinics see uptick in COVID testing, and positive tests
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Wiregrass clinics are facing what the majority of the nation faces when it comes to COVID-19, that’s lots of testing and more recently, lots of positive results.
But, the question is, what is pushing this uptick? Health experts say it is likely the highly contagious Omicron variant.
It’s been a common scene this week, a line of patients form outside of AllSouth Urgent Care before the clinic opens. Patients are seeking testing for COVID-19.
“It hasn’t been like this since probably the end of Summer, until this week,” Dr. Beth Weaver, M.D., said.
On Tuesday the urgent care tested nearly 100 people, and 40 percent of them were positive. Dr. Weaver said this is more positive cases than they saw during the whole month of November.
“And I don’t think we’ve peaked yet,” Dr. Weaver said. “I think we’ll see more in the next few weeks”
With the high patient volume, Dr. Weaver asks for the publics patience when waiting for a test result.
Behind the positive cases, Alabama is seeing an uptick in COVID hospitalizations as well. Southeast Health is not being spared. The hospital reports the majority of these patients are unvaccinated. The hospital averaged caring for about 10 COVID patients a day, to now caring for 18.
Southeast Health clinics are also seeing that increase in COVID testing. They went from testing 10 patients for the virus on Sunday, to jumping to 40 on Monday and then testing 51 the following day.
Dr. George Narby, Chief Medical Officer at Southeast Health, said many factors come into play when it comes to what is pushing this increase: holiday gatherings, low vaccination rates and the rapidly spreading variant, Omicron.
“We know that the Omicron variant is much more contagious than previous variant and Delta,” Dr. Narby said.
Information about Omicron is scarce, but Dr. Narby said we do know this variant is highly contagious. He has concern with the unknown of what this variant cant do.
“My concern personally, is how Omicron will infect those people that have never been vaccinated and have no history of COVID infection before, those people that are so called COVID naïve,” Dr. Narby said.
Dr. Weaver has concerns as well.
“It’s supposed to be a milder version of COVID and some people consequently think, ‘I don’t feel that bad, I’ll just go ahead and go anyway,’” Dr. Weaver said. “I would want people to please be responsible, even if your own family has not been affected or you friend group has not been affected, you can pass it onto someone who will be affected.”
On Wednesday the Alabama Department of Public Health reports all counties are at the highest Community Transmission Rate for the virus, with the exception of Geneva County which sits at substantial risk.
Dr. Weaver asks people to look at the numbers.
“Don’t look at the politics, or religion, or economics, look at the numbers of the people who are in the ICU’s, and on ventilators and who are dying, by in large, they are unvaccinated individuals,” Dr. Weaver said.
Dr. Narby adds, Southeast Health is continuing to prepare for the next surge if, and when there is one.
“We’ve reactivated our COVID task force, we are meeting regularly and we’re getting prepared for the next surge and whatever it may bring to this community,” Dr. Narby said.
Flowers Hospital is also seeing an uptick in positive COVID testing, by 10 percent since last Thursday.
The hospital provided this statement to News 4:
“Flowers Hospital has recently seen an increase in positive COVID-19 test rates. Since December 23, 2021, positive COVID-19 test rates at our hospital have increased by an average of 10 percent. We continue to strongly encourage vaccination since it offers the most protection from COVID-19 and emerging variants. Additionally, it is still important to practice infection control measures such as washing your hands often, wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if you are sick.”
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