Alabama’s COVID Deaths at Lowest Level Since August

The number of deaths in Alabama that are attributed to the COVID-19 virus has finally started to decrease in earnest, after averaging more than 100 per day as recently as a month ago.

In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of the state’s pandemic data, the 7-day moving average of deaths dropped into the teens Wednesday, now standing at 17.29 per day. The longer term 14-day average is still roughly double that number, checking in at 32.29, but is also in a decline.

Both averages were at 100 or more in the latter part of September as the delta-variant surge swept through Alabama. As has been the case during the pandemic, deaths have lagged new COVID cases by about three to six weeks. The peak of the 7-day case average was reached on Sept. 1, while the peak of the deaths average came on Sept. 23. This follows the pattern of the original alpha-variant surge in December through February.

Hospitalizations of COVID patients continues its steady decrease, with the Alabama Hospital Association reporting 482 inpatients as of Tuesday. Of that number, 163 were housed in intensive care units.

A total of 1,357 patients are in Alabama’s ICUs, counting COVID and non-COVID cases. Of those patients, 21% have been fully vaccinated for COVID, the highest percentage since this statistic was first reported by AlaHA on Sept. 13.

New Cases Level Off

New cases have leveled off in the past two weeks, with the 7-day average hovering near 850 per day. The average stood at 847.29 on Tuesday, not far from the 14-day average of 840.71. That’s down 84% from the top delta-surge reading of 5,538.14 on Sept. 1.

On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 7,393 new cases, as it processed a large backlog of previously unreported cases. The department said in a statement on its online COVID dashboard that it is “onboarding a large laboratory that has not previously reported COVID-19 results to ADPH.” More of the unreported cases will be part of daily reports later this week, with many of the cases originally occurring months ago.

Jefferson County had 514 new cases over the week ending Tuesday, an average of 73.42 per day. Seventeen people died from COVID during the week.

Vaccinations have trailed off as the delta surge has wound down. On Monday, the latest date for which data is available, 4,650 shots were administered, and the cumulative total of those who have received the full vaccine regimen is now up to 2,074,917, or 41.3% of the state’s population. Alabama ranks 48th of all states plus the District of Columbia in full-vaccination percentage.

Those numbers come on the heels of efforts by Gov. Kay Ivey to resist a mandate by President Joe Biden that requires all federal contractors — loosely defined as any organization that is paid for work for the federal government — to require workers to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Ivey signed an executive order Monday that bars any executive branch office from penalizing employees or businesses for non-compliance with the federal vaccine mandate.

It also directs executive agencies to cooperate with Marshall’s office in “furtherance of litigation brought by the State to challenge any federally imposed COVID-19 vaccination requirement.”

“This latest move by the federal government is what I believe is an illegal overreach, and I am confident we will win the battle in the courts,” Ivey said in a statement.

BirmonghamWatch uses data for its analyses provided by the ADPH and AlaHA, with additional data this week from the Mayo Clinic.