The state’s COVID numbers keep heading in the wrong direction, as the Delta variant of the virus is now present in better than four out of five people who test positive for the virus across the country.
Thursday’s report by the Alabama Department of Public Health showed that new cases were down slightly from Wednesday but still high enough to push moving averages upward yet again. Alabama tallied 1,567 additional cases, down slightly from Wednesday’s 1,632 count. The total for the pandemic is now 565,510 cases in the state. Read more.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to rise at faster rates in Alabama, and hospital beds continue to fill with patients suffering from the virus.
The Alabama Department of Public Health said Wednesday that 1,631 new cases were reported by hospitals and health care facilities across the state. It’s the third day in the past week that the number has topped the 1,300 mark and the highest daily number since early February, except for days when many previously unreported cases were sent by providers to the ADPH in what they call data dumps. Read more.
U.S. Sen Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., on Tuesday discussed Alabama’s low vaccination rate with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, and said that publicly giving more credit to former President Donald Trump for the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine would encourage more conservative skeptics to take it.
In an exchange during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Alabama’s junior senator questioned the federal government’s top health officials on a range of pandemic issues and urged them to adopt a message that appeals to Trump supporters who are skeptical of the Biden administration.
“I think people need a unifying message from all of us because, in my state of Alabama, we don’t have everyone taking a vaccine, and we’re having outbreaks as we speak,” Tuberville told Fauci. “You know, a lot of people voted for Donald Trump — a lot of people in the South, a lot of people in my state. So Dr. Fauci, can you understand that unless this administration acknowledges the efforts of the last one, a large part of Americans, they’re going to continue to feel like nothing’s positive. They’re not going to take the vaccine. You understand what I’m saying?”
COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Jefferson County, and offering incentives to persuade people to get vaccinated does not seem to be working, a public health official warned the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday.
David Hicks, deputy health officer and COVID-19 incident commander at the Jefferson County Department of Health, said new daily coronavirus cases had increased fivefold in the past month.
“In our county, we’re averaging 75 new COVID cases per day,” he said. “If you go back a month ago, we were averaging 13 cases a day … . The trajectory is troubling. Every week we’re seeing a doubling of the cases of COVID-19 being identified.”
Thirty-six percent of Jefferson County residents are fully vaccinated, Hicks said, while 45% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Read more.
New COVID-19 cases jumped by 1,391 Tuesday, driving the state’s 7-day average of daily new cases up to 1,013.71 from Monday’s peak of 815.
Over the past two weeks, the state has averaged 786.64 new cases per day, according to updates from the Alabama Department of Public Health. Monday that number was 687.29. On July 5, it was 121.
The rising numbers reflect the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID virus, which is stronger and more contagious than the original, and continuing low vaccination rates in the state. The Fourth of July holiday also was two weeks ago, and gatherings or parties to celebrate could be contributing to the spread. Read more.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 virus infections in Alabama is rising at an alarming rate, with the daily count now almost seven times higher than it was on July 5.
The Alabama Department of Public Health, which releases new case counts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, reported 718 new cases today. That’s in addition to an unscheduled update on Sunday of 1,625 new cases over the weekend.
Those numbers have pushed the 7-day moving average up to 815 cases per day. Compared to a reading of 121 as of July 5, the average is now 6.74 times higher over two weeks’ time. It’s the highest reading for the 7-day average since March 5, except for a short period in May that was affected by a large number of backlogged cases added to the system in a “data dump.” Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s K-12 schools have about $2.02 billion coming in from the American Rescue Plan Act that schools will be able to spend over the next three years, making it one of the largest single investments Alabama has ever seen for public education.
In three rounds of COVID-19 federal relief funding since last year, K-12 schools are getting more than $3.1 billion. That’s more than four years’ worth of annual federal Title I money targeted at helping low-income learners.
“We’ve never had an influx of money like this before and we’re excited about the possibilities,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey told Alabama Daily News. Read more.
The fears of many Alabama health care professionals may be realized, if the latest numbers on new cases of COVID-19 are any indication.
BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths resulting from the virus, spikes have shown up in all major categories over the past two weeks. In some cases, the numbers have multiplied over the period that includes the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The causes of these increases cannot be precisely pinpointed, but three main factors are in play: the rise of the more-dangerous Delta variant of the virus, the higher number of people gathering in large groups without masks this summer, and the low percentage of Alabamians who have been vaccinated.
“It’s a combination of ‘all of the above,’” said Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson.
The latest version of the COVID-19 virus, known as the Delta variant, is becoming prevalent in samples tested in the past few weeks and shows signs of spreading even further.
That’s the finding of Derek Moates, a researcher and manager of the laboratory at the UAB Department of Pathology Fungal Reference Lab. Moates shared his research in an online press conference Tuesday.
He warned that Alabama’s low vaccination rate, coupled with how quickly and easily the Delta variant spreads, poses a growing concern in the state.
Coates has been monitoring the spread of the variant in samples collected from across Alabama. The Delta variant, which originated in India, has become the dominant strain in much of the world, and is feared because it is much more contagious than the original virus strain.
Alabama had 980 drug overdose deaths in 2020, an increase of about 27% from 2019, according to preliminary numbers from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Alabama Daily News requested the drug overdose and suicide death information from ADPH last month to compare the pandemic year to previous ones.
State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said he didn’t have a complete explanation for the spike in overdose deaths, but it’s reasonable that the pandemic contributed to it.
“People had difficult economic times, they had social isolation and just being out of their normal activities,” Harris said. “And I think public health and other health care interventions were probably sidelined a bit because everyone was focused on COVID.”
Separately, there were 793 suicides in 2020, according to information obtained from death certificates. That’s slightly fewer than the preceding three years, but Harris cautioned that the 2020 numbers are preliminary and could increase. Read more.