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MONTGOMERY (AP) — Hospitalizations from COVID-19 have increased more than 45% in the last month in Alabama, reaching a level by Monday not seen since the illness caused by the new coronavirus was raging through the state in the summer.

Statistics released by the Alabama Department of Public Health showed 1,174 people hospitalized with the disease after the weekend, or roughly the same number as in mid-August when caseloads spiked following the July 4 holiday. A month ago, 801 were hospitalized, records showed.

Around 1,600 people were hospitalized at a time in late July and early August when the pandemic was at its worst in the state after the holiday. The situation improved after Gov. Kay Ivey required mask use in public, but numbers are worsening again across much of the nation.

Health experts fear that intensive care units could again reach near capacity unless more people adhere to the state rule requiring face masks in public anytime social distancing can't be maintained.

More than 3,080 have died of the illness in the state, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, and the rolling daily average of new cases increased by 5.6% over the last two weeks.

The illness causes only mild to moderate symptoms for most people, but it can be deadly for the elderly and people with other, serious health problems.

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