Alabama’s COVID-19 New Case, Death Averages Mixed Over Previous Week

The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Alabama is staying fairly level while the death rate is drifting downward slightly as the pandemic enters its seventh month.

BirminghamWatch’s weekly analysis of data reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health shows the 7-day moving average of new cases for the period ending Wednesday stands at 959.57 per day, down from 1,076.86 cases per day on Sept. 30.

There were large fluctuations in the past week because the health department found labs that had not been reporting cases and added those cases to the total.

The longer 14-day average has stayed relatively steady and is now at 1,018.93, an increase of more than 38 cases per day over the past week.

The ADPH recently changed the way it calculates the data reported each day on its COVID-19 website. During the summer, it had been reporting confirmed cases and probable cases separately. On Sept. 26, it began combining those numbers to report total cases, and it did the same with deaths. BirminghamWatch has recalculated the numbers reported retroactively to May 30, when the health department first began to report probable cases separately, to make the numbers comparable. Before May 30, the health department also had been including probable cases in its totals for the day.

The new total of cumulative COVID-19 cases, both confirmed and probable, has risen to 161,418 — an increase of 6,717 cases in seven days. Of those cases, 142,292 are confirmed. The number of days it would take for the combined total to double is 134 days, a rate that has stayed stable for the past week.

The 7-day average positivity rate now stands at 9.69%, a hike of more than one percentage point from a week ago. The 14-day average rate is at 13.83%, barely above last week but significantly higher than the 10.70% rate two weeks ago. The positivity rate is the percentage of positive results from all tests in a period, so a drop in tests administered often will raise positivity rates. Similarly, a “data dump” on Sept. 25, when a large group of results were fed into the reporting system, may have caused an artificial increase in testing numbers, resulting in a lower positivity rate. The Centers for Disease Control considers 5% to be the goal for positivity rates.

The COVID-19 death toll has risen to 2,601. Sixty-one people died in the past week. In what has become a fairly regular pattern, most deaths during the week are reported on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as health care providers catch up with those who passed over the previous weekend; 42 of this week’s deaths fell on those days, with 19 being reported on other days of the week.

The 7-day average of new daily death reports has varied little over the past seven days; it stands at 8.71 deaths per day, up from 7.43 on Sept. 30. The 14-day average, now at 9.12 per day, is down from 10.50 a week prior and has been on a slow rate of decrease over the past three weeks.

Jefferson County continues to report more cases and deaths than any other county in Alabama. There were 659 new cases in the past week, giving the county 20,938 cases since the pandemic began. The county death toll is now at 353, with one death reported in the past week.

As of Wednesday, 777 patients were hospitalized in Alabama with COVID-19 related causes. The 7-day moving average of hospitalizations is 763.14.

Birmingham Watch computes moving averages based the data updated daily by the ADPH.