The number of new cases of COVID-19 infections in Alabama is rising at an alarming rate, with the daily count now almost seven times higher than it was on July 5.
The Alabama Department of Public Health, which releases new case counts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, reported 718 new cases on Monday. That’s in addition to an unscheduled update on Sunday of 1,625 new cases over the weekend.
Those numbers have pushed the 7-day moving average up to 815 cases per day. Compared to a reading of 121 as of July 5, the average is now 6.74 times higher over two weeks’ time. It’s the highest reading for the 7-day average since March 5, except for a short period in May that was affected by a large number of backlogged cases added to the system in a “data dump.”
The 14-day average, which is not as highly affected by sharp daily spikes, has more than quadrupled in the same period, from 163.21 on July 5 to 687.29 on Monday. Not since March 8 has the longer-term average been that high.
Hospitalizations are also rising sharply throughout the state, with the number of COVID inpatients now more than double the number of two weeks ago. The statewide total on Monday stood at 469, which compares to 179 on July 3. In the past week alone, the total has spiked by 192 patients.
Deaths attributed to COVID have roughly doubled in two weeks, but still remain at low levels compared to triple-digit daily numbers back in January and February. The current 7-day average is 5.86 deaths per day, which is about twice the average of 2.86 on July 5. The current average has declined slightly over the past week, however. The 14-day average is now at 6.07 deaths per day.
Most public health officials attribute the increases to the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID virus, which is stronger and more contagious than the original version. Alabama is also hampered by its low percentage of vaccinated residents, though that is improving — 34% of all residents have the full vaccine regimen now, and 41% have received at least one dose. The state remains last in the country for percent of fully vaccinated residents, and fourth from the bottom for one-dose vaccinations (fifth, if the U.S. Virgin Islands are included).
The Delta variant is on the rise in every U.S. state, and USA Today reported Monday that the nationwide moving average for new cases has nearly tripled in the past month. Worries about the rapid spread of Delta caused jitters in the stock market as well, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 920 points as of 1 p.m.