HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Alabama are increasing significantly with new cases doubling since the start of June.

Medical experts fear these COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will increase to even higher levels with the upcoming Fourth of July gatherings.

New data from the Alabama Department of Public Health shows since the start of June, COVID-19 cases are up nearly 108%. However, medical experts believe these numbers are actually much higher since many cases are not reported.

“We want people to be safe, so that means if you know you have been exposed to someone, or you have been exposed to COVID, it’s best to just get the test,” Jefferson County Deputy Health Officer David Hicks said. “Then you can be sure you are protecting yourself.”

Hospitalizations are also up around the state with nearly 400 COVID-19 patients fighting the virus in Alabama hospitals. This is the highest number the state has seen since the beginning of 2022.

In Dothan alone, Southeast Health has 28 COVID-19 patients. Flowers Hospital currently has nine. However, experts believe new COVID-19 treatments are helping keep these numbers low.

“We also have treatments available, especially for people at higher risk of getting sick with COVID to the point of them going to the hospital,” said Dr. Michael Saag with UAB Infectious Diseases. “Getting on these new drugs early like in the first two or three days from the offset of symptoms really saves lives.”

Medical professionals say with a statewide COVID-19 transmission rate of 24%, if you are feeling sick, it’s important to get tested not only to protect yourself but those most vulnerable to severe illness.

“We are talking about 300 new cases we are getting a day,” Hicks said. “We know there is still a lot of COVID out there and it’s spreading. We want to make sure everybody can ensure their summer and be maximally protected.”

These higher COVID-19 transmission rates and hospitalizations are why medical experts are urging Alabamians to remain cautious, especially heading into the Fourth of July weekend.