COVID-19 Coverage

Do you need a COVID-19 test? Odds are good

By WVUA 23 News Reporter A’Leeyah Ponder Lines for COVID-19 tests are backing up as residents find themselves contending with symptoms that may or may not be caused by the omicron variant. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, 46.7% of COVID-19 tests in Tuscaloosa County taken over the past seven days have come

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What comes after omicron? New COVID variant possible, if not probable

COVID-19 and its variants are passing the second year of existence inside the U.S., and the pandemic remains far from over. So what comes after the transmission-heavy but symptom-light omicron variant? Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson said all viruses mutate — that’s how they continue spreading. That means in all likelihood, another variant

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Record number of Alabama kids hospitalized with COVID-19

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Alabama health officials say a record number of children are hospitalized with COVID-19 as the state’s largest public school district prepares to switch to virtual classes because so many staffers have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus. The Alabama Department of Public Health said in a statement Friday that 71

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UAB doctor: More people being hospitalized, but fewer on ventilators

The omicron COVID-19 variant is spreading much faster than the delta variant, which was a lot deadlier. But University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Pediatric and Infectious Diseases Co-Director Dr. David Kimberlin said Thursday that UAB Hospital and Children’s Hospital in Birmingham are still approaching the maximum number of patients they can care for.

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Red Cross announces blood shortage crisis

It’s the worst blood shortage in over a decade, and the American Red Cross wants your help ensuring hospitals have enough blood for anyone who finds themself in need. “This need is very great,” said Misty Hester with the Central-West Chapter of the American Red Cross. “This is the first time that we’ve been in

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Head Start program closed at least through Tuesday because of COVID

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Elise Anzaldua Community Service Programs of West Alabama has temporarily closed all Head Start programs until next week because of a rise in COVID-19 cases among students and faculty. But if all goes according to plan, they’ll be reopening Tuesday after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. CSP Executive Director

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Alabama surpasses 1M COVID-19 cases

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Elise Anzaldua More than 1 million people in Alabama have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic reached our state in March 2020. Dr. Wes Stubblefield with the Alabama Department of Public Health said the recent spike in cases is coming from the highly contagious omicron variant, but the previous

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Negotiations, disagreements on use of state virus funds

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama lawmakers are attempting to decide how to spend more than $500 million in pandemic relief funds ahead of an expected special session. Key lawmakers on Thursday expressed general support for using money for broadband, water and sewer infrastructure and relief to health care providers. Senate

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Local churches feeling impact of COVID-19 rise

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Aajene Robinson Over the past seven days, Alabama has seen a 41% positivity rate among those who have tested for COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard. Those numbers do not include results from at-home COVID tests. As of Tuesday, Jan. 11, the seven-day average for

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Hale County schools learning online through at least Tuesday

COVID-19’s omicron variant is taking a toll everywhere, but small, rural school systems are facing extra challenges. For the Hale County School District, there are so many staff members and students out of work or school that it made sense to move back to virtual learning through at least Jan. 18, system officials said. “As

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COVID-19 surge may impact Tuscaloosa’s operations

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Joseph King As COVID-19 cases rise, so too do the numbers of people forced to stay home from work because they’re sick. That fact is hitting the city of Tuscaloosa the same as it is everywhere else, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said Tuesday. “Internally at the city, we see more

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Tuscaloosa City Schools may bring back masks next week

Those who work at or attend Tuscaloosa City Schools could return to masking up as early as next week if COVID-19 numbers don’t drop, the system announced Monday. Students returned Jan. 5, but according to the announcement, the system is already experiencing a COVID-19 case average of more than 1%. If the two-week average for

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COVID-19 cases spike in Alabama

Alabama breaks the record for new COVID-19 cases reported in one day. State Health Officials report 11,075 as of Wednesday. “We know that’s an underestimate because it doesn’t include people who had been fortunate enough to find an in home test kit.  More than 41% of the tests coming back are positive now” says Dr.

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Stillman College delays basketball games over COVID-19 concerns

COVID-19 is changing the Stillman Tigers’ basketball schedule after several members of the women’s team and a coach tested positive for the virus. Athletic Director Terrance Whittle said students’ health is what’s most important. “We just feel like putting those policies in place and those protocols in place, that gives us a return to play

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DCH under strain as COVID numbers climb again

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Joseph King Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising around the U.S. amid the omicron variant surge, and DCH Health System in West Alabama is no exception. DCH Marketing and Communications Vice President Andy North said beds are filling rapidly. “About a week ago we were around a dozen,” North said. “As

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Harris: ‘Omicron spreading like wildfire’ in Alabama

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama’s state health officer says the highly infectious omicron variant is spreading rapidly as the state set record numbers for COVID-19 cases. State Health Officer Scott Harris says a large number of Alabamians will be infected in this wave. He urged people to get vaccinated and

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School is back in session this week. Masks remain optional in most of West Alabama

Schools around West Alabama are heading back to school this week, but will they be required to mask up once again? For Tuscaloosa City Schools and the Tuscaloosa County School System, the short answer is “No.” For now. “We are returning at this point the way we left, with masks being optional,” said Tuscaloosa City

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CDC signs off on Pfizer extra dose measures

By The Associated Press NEW YORK – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has signed off on two measures to increase access to additional doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. The CDC on Tuesday recommended shortening the recommended interval of time between when people who had an initial series of Pfizer vaccinations and

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Some schools teaching online, requiring masks as cases surge

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Some Alabama school systems are returning to online learning or implementing mask restrictions to avoid classroom outbreaks. In Sylacauga, students will attend classes remotely for three days when the new semester begins on Wednesday to avoid exposure. Pike County Schools will meet in person but require masks through Jan. 28. The

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Back to class? Back in masks at University of Alabama

Classes at the University of Alabama begin again Jan. 12, and students, faculty and staff will once more be required to wear masks in the wake of the most recent COVID-19 outbreak. Masks will be required, regardless of vaccination status, in all academic buildings, administrative and office buildings, health care facilities and campus transportation. Those

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2,500 US flights canceled due to storms, virus

By The Associated Press PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island – Wintry weather combined with the pandemic to frustrate air travelers whose return flights home from the holidays were canceled or delayed in the first days of the new year. More than 2,500 U.S. flights and more than 4,100 worldwide were grounded Sunday, according to tracking service FlightAware.

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Lawmakers face decisions on $1.5 billion in relief funds

By KIM CHANDLER Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama lawmakers face decisions in the coming months on how to spend more than $1.5 billion in pandemic relief funds. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Reed, R-Jasper, said it will be one of the major issues before lawmakers in the session that begins Jan. 11. He

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CDC warns against cruises, regardless of vaccination status

By ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON Associated Press MIAMI (AP) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning people not to go on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status, because of onboard outbreaks fueled by the omicron variant. The CDC says it has more than 90 cruise ships under investigation or observation as a

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UAB doctor: Rise in COVID cases causing emergency room surge

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Aajene Robinson UAB Hospital is seeing a major increase in patients showing up at their emergency departments wanting a COVID test or treatment for mild COVID symptoms, officials said Wednesday, and that’s clogging up wait times for those with true emergencies. UAB Department of Emergency Medicine Vice Chair for Clinical

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