The weather in Alabama may be bone-chilling cold, but the data on the COVID-19 outbreak are moving in the direction that should warm the heart of health officials.
In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of data provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the number of new daily cases of the virus has dropped by more than three-fourths since a peak less than six weeks ago. The 7-day moving average is trending downward and about to pass the 1,000-per-day mark — a figure that hasn’t been seen since the middle of October.
The current 7-day average stands at 1,014.29, a 36% decline in the past week and more than half in two weeks’ time. It’s the lowest average seen since the record high of 4,280.86 on Jan. 10. The last time this average was below 1,000 new cases per day was Oct. 16, when the average was at 986.0.
The 14-day average, which is more resistant to short spikes in either direction, has also fallen significantly this month. Wednesday’s average came in at 1,293.64 new cases daily, a drop of 31% in one week and slightly more than half since Feb. 1. Since a peak of 4,019 on Jan. 10, the 14-day average has decreased by two-thirds.
The number of new death reports also has fallen considerably, with Wednesday’s 7-day average at 65.43 deaths per day. That is a 58% drop from the record high of 154.29 set Jan. 29, just 19 days ago. The longer-term 14-day average is down to 81.64, down 33% from seven days ago and 42% from the peak two weeks ago.
Hospitalizations of COVID patients are also in sharp decline. The statewide total stood at 1,104 beds occupied by those infected with the virus, down from 1,443 a week prior and a 64% decline from Jan. 11, when a high of 3,084 was reached.
At UAB Hospital, which publishes its numbers each weekday, 71 patients are hospitalized for active COVID infections as of Wednesday. Another 78 patients remain hospitalized as they recover from damage caused by earlier COVID infections, but who are no longer considered infectious. Both numbers are down slightly from a week before.
The statewide 7-day moving average positivity rate is the only major COVID statistic that did not improve in the past week. The average went up from 12.09% on Feb. 10 to 15.23% this Wednesday, while the 14-day average declined from 13.15% to 10.14%. The rise in the 7-day average may have been affected by the winter storm, as the number of tests given each day since Monday was less than half of the same days the week before.
In Jefferson County, 750 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the past week, down sharply from 1,291 the previous week. There were 34 additional deaths. The 14-day positivity rate has fallen to 7.56%, down from 9.99% seven days prior.
As of Monday, there have been 1,032,175 doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered to Alabama, with 663,056 of them administered. So far, 158,246 people have received both required doses of the vaccine. This week’s winter weather caused several vaccination sites to close, including those run by UAB Hospital at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium and Parker High School, plus the site operated by the Jefferson County Department of Health at Gardendale First Baptist Church.
Birmingham Watch compiles its analyses based on data published by the ADPH, which gives updates daily on its COVID-19 home page.