GULF SHORES, Ala. — The U.S. Gulf Coast is glowing like a bad sunburn on maps that show COVID-19 trouble spots in red.
Alabama's coastal counties lead the state in new cases, and some events have been canceled in Florida and Louisiana because of the latest surge.
Health officials believe the spike is due to a combination of some of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates, unabated tourism, a disregard for basic health precautions and the region’s carefree lifestyle.
They're all occurring at a time when the mutated virus is more contagious than ever and conservative states are balking at new health restrictions.
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism website, gulfshores.com, mentioned COVID once on its main webpage Thursday.
"Our destination is committed to providing you with an enjoyable and safe experience. Although Alabama is no longer under an emergency health order, we encourage all guests to remain diligent in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated and taking precautions to avoid exposure," a message pinned to the top of the website said.
The message also provides a link to the site's coronavirus update page for the area's safety measures, but those measures haven't been updated since July 22.
The website doesn't mention any restrictions for travelers from out of state, but it does ask out-of-state travelers to adhere to their respective state's restrictions, especially if those restrictions call for a stay-at-home mandate.
Gulf Shores is in Baldwin County, and while there seem to be no restrictions put in place by local or state officials, Baldwin County has seen a spike in recent COVID cases.
Since August 5, Baldwin County has seen a 153% increase in COVID hospitalizations, 23 deaths, and a COVID test positivity of 32%.