Alabama’s COVID Case Numbers Still on Downtrend, but Deaths Increase Slightly

A health care worker administers a swab test for COVID-19. Source: Wiki Commons, U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Marshall

New COVID-19 cases in Alabama continue the slow decline that has prevailed over two months’ time, though deaths attributed to the virus have ramped upward slightly in the past week.

In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of COVID data, the 7-day moving average of new cases reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health is now at 277.14 per day, the lowest level for that average since May 19 of last year.

The 14-day average is not available because of anomalies with large numbers of old cases reported during the period; it’s a problem that ADPH has often faced with some testing labs during the pandemic.

The total caseload from the start of the pandemic is now at 542,831, which is 10.8% of the state population of 5.03 million as measured in the 2020 Census.

Aside from the backlog of old cases, the averages have maintained their slow and steady downtrend since April, when mass vaccination efforts began to show a significant effect. While the rate of new vaccinations has slowed since a peak in the first week of April, ADPH says that 1,318,446 Alabamians have completed the series of shots, or roughly 26% of the total population.

The COVID death toll rate has slipped upward, however, as 93 fatalities were reported in the past seven days, resulting in a 7-day moving average of 13.29. That average is up from 6.86 the week before, which was the lowest average since April 17, 2020. The 14-day average, which more effectively smooths out the highs and lows of daily reporting, is 10.07 deaths reported per day, up from 8.21 a week ago.The ADPH recently began to also report COVID fatalities by the actual date of death. For the week ending May 20 — the most recent data available — the 7-day moving average stood at 3.43 deaths per day, using that measure.

Hospitalizations of COVID patients has stayed on its course of a slow decrease. On Wednesday, 278 inpatients across the state were hospitalized due to the virus. That’s down from 314 a week before. The 7-day average of 285.29 is the lowest mark seen since April 8, 2020, which was just two weeks after the state started to report the count of COVID patients in hospitals.

Jefferson County had 176 new cases of the virus in the past seven days, a 7-day average of 25.14 per day. Five deaths were reported in the county in the past week, the same number as the prior week.

Most of Alabama’s COVID data shows continued improvement as mask mandates and restrictions on gathering sizes have been eliminated. Birmingham’s mask ordinance was allowed to expire this week; it was the last mask ordinance left in the state. Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Safer Apart” order ends May 31, but it has regulated only visitors at hospitals and nursing homes.

BirminghamWatch’s analysis is based on numbers updated each day by the ADPH on its website.