As Feared, COVID-19 Numbers Are Rising After Holidays

Health officials feared that the holidays would bring a spike in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and their fears are being realized.

In BirminghamWatch’s analysis of Alabama pandemic numbers, all of the major data points are again headed in the wrong direction. The 7-day and 14-day moving averages of new cases are approaching the records set just before Christmas. New cases during the past two days totaled more than 10,000, the first time that mark has been passed since the outbreak began in spring, and Tuesday’s report of 5,498 cases is a daily record. The Alabama Department of Public Health, however, warned that those numbers could include cases from a few days before, as well, because reporting lagged over the holiday weekend.

The 7-day moving average of new cases stands at 3,909.14 per day, up by 774 from Dec. 30 but still under the record set Dec. 23. The 14-day average has risen to 3,543.93, also below the record of 3,817.57 reached two weeks earlier.

COVID hospitalizations across the state hit a new record Tuesday with 3,081 inpatients, after moving through the 3,000 mark the day before. The total Wednesday was 2,967. The number of intensive care unit beds available statewide hit a low of 89, or 5% of all beds, on Monday.

Locally, UAB Hospital set a new high on Sunday with 226 inpatients suffering from COVID. That total dropped to 210 by Wednesday, plus 84 patients classified as “convalescing,” meaning they no longer were positive for the virus but still were being treated for associated illnesses.

The death toll took a big jump Wednesday after four days when few or no deaths were reported due to the New Year’s holiday break. The 108 deaths mark the second-highest daily report on record and pushed the overall death count for the pandemic to just short of 5,000.

Positivity rates continue to skyrocket, with 47.09% of all patients tested in the past 14 days being positive with the disease — yet another record. Marion County had the highest percentage in the state, with 72.37%. That county had 293 positive results out of 409 tests conducted. Ten out of Alabama’s 67 counties had positivity rates of 60% or higher. Jefferson County checked in at 44.37%.

BirminghamWatch uses data provided by the ADPH, which updates its dashboard web page at about 10 a.m. each day. Additional data was provided by the Alabama Hospital Association.