BIRMINGHAM — Cases of COVID-19 are rising exponentially in Alabama's largest metro area because a new, highly contagious variant is spreading among the unvaccinated, and public places should consider a return to requiring face masks, the head of the area health department said Thursday.

WASHINGTON — Lagging vaccination rates among nursing home staff are being linked to a national increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths at senior facilities in July, and are at the center of a federal investigation in a hard-hit Colorado location where disease detectives found many workers…

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is suffering a "self-inflicted wound" from COVID-19, with hospitals again filling up as the state trails the nation in vaccinations and pandemic precautions like face masks and social distancing are all but forgotten, a health leader said Tuesday.

NEW DELHI — India's excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic could be a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll, likely making it modern India's worst human tragedy, according to the most comprehensive research yet on the ravages of the virus in the South Asian country.

BERLIN (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization acknowledged it was premature to rule out a potential link between the COVID-19 pandemic and a laboratory leak, and he said Thursday he is asking China to be more transparent as scientists search for the origins of the coronavirus.

NASHVILLE — Health officials in Tennessee have linked a small coronavirus cluster to last month's meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville's first large-scale conference after lifting restrictions on gatherings, The Tennessean reported.

MONTGOMERY — A state agency said Friday it will work with private organizations to encourage more elderly and disabled people to get vaccines for COVID-19, which is on the rise in Alabama as the state's inoculation rate trails the nation.