Category: Coronavirus

Alabama Health Officer Reflects on Lessons Learned From COVID-19

Three years ago, Alabamians were beginning to see the impacts of a new respiratory virus sweeping the nation. 

“Everybody remembers watching in horror at what was transpiring in Washington State in this skilled nursing facility,” recalled Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health. “We just didn’t know how much we didn’t know.”

Harris made the comments during a monthly meeting of the Alabama Board of Health on Thursday. He discussed lessons learned from the pandemic and future challenges amid the looming removal of a federal emergency declaration. Read more.

What a Difference a Year Makes, but COVID’s Still Around

One year ago, Alabama was in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the state’s peak, on Jan 21, 2022, the 7-day average of new COVID cases per day was 12,918, according to the New York Times’ COVID tracker.

The year before, in February, 2021, deaths hit their high with an average of 147 Alabamians a day succumbing to the disease.

This week, as of Wednesday, Jan. 18, the 7-day average of new cases per day statewide was 963, and the daily average of deaths was 3.1 on Thursday.

Despite the steep drop, health officials have urged people to remain vigilant, keep up with their vaccinations and mask if their community is at risk of COVID or if they are at heightened risk from the virus. Read more.

COVID Still Topping 2020 Numbers in Alabama, but Conditions Not as Bad as in 2021

Although many Alabamians seem to believe the pandemic is over, judging by the lack of masks being worn inside stores and other public buildings, the virus actually is affecting more Alabamians now than it did two years ago.

On Thursday, the average of new cases being reported daily in the state was 2,099, according to New York Times data. Not only is that a 4% increase from two weeks ago, it’s a 41% increase over the average number of new cases reported the week ending Sept. 1, 2020, when the average of new daily cases reported was 1,482.

But the most recent case numbers are at just less than half of what they were last year, when an average of 4,307 new cases had been reported daily in the week that ended Sept. 1. Read more.

Masks Up, Health Department Advises as COVID Continues to Climb Again

It’s time for Alabamians who do not want to catch COVID to put back on their masks.

That was the advice from the Alabama Department of Public Health this week as cases continued to increase across the state.

After the state’s positivity rate dropped to single digits in the spring and hospitals cleared out their overflow patients, people began to think the pandemic was over.

It is not.

Hospitalizations have been rising in recent weeks, and 677 people diagnosed with COVID were in Alabama hospitals Friday, According to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID dashboard.

That’s the highest number since February, but it’s not nearly the almost 3,000 daily average COVID patients in hospitals in January.

The state’s positivity rate, which shows the portion of people who were officially tested for COVID-19 and returned a positive result, has risen to 30.2%. Read more.

Birmingham Area at High Risk of COVID Transmission

Every county in the Birmingham metropolitan area except Blount has been moved into the high-risk category for COVID-19 transmission.

Jefferson County’s positivity rate has been rising and now stands at 25%, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the county has had an average of 291 new cases a day for the past seven days. Hospital admissions in the county are up somewhat, with 10 more patients over last week, for a 2% increase.

The swath of counties with high transmission risks means residents need to exercise more care, including making sure their vaccinations are up to date and wearing masks if they are at a high risk from the virus, said Dr. Wesley Willeford, Jefferson County Health Department’s medical director of disease control. He said health officials see no need now to issue mandates as they did in 2020. Read more.

Déjà Vu: Two Years Later, and Coronavirus Case Levels Are Virtually the Same

The number of new coronavirus cases a day in Alabama now is almost exactly the same as it was two years ago heading into Memorial Day. Cases have been trending upward for more than a month, and Alabama averaged 510 new cases a day in the 7-day period that ended Friday, according to information from the Alabama Department of Public Health. At this time in 2020, Alabama was averaging 501 cases per day. Read more.