COVID Death Toll in Alabama Tops 8,000, but New Cases and Hospitalizations Still Falling

The number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalized COVID patients continues to drop in Alabama, though the number of deaths attributed to the virus has passed another milestone.

In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of data provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state death toll stood at 8,203 as of Wednesday morning, an increase of 1,031 in the past seven days.

Some of those deaths happened earlier, because ADPH reviews the cause of death before adding cases to the count. While that doesn’t affect the overall death toll since the pandemic began in March, it makes it difficult to analyze how many COVID deaths happened in the past few days. Death reports are a lagging indicator of the virus, because many of those who perish do so quite some time after contracting COVID.

Improvements in other numbers continue. The number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients fell below 2,000 in the past week, after peaking at 3,084 on Jan. 11. It’s the first time the occupied bed count has fallen this low since Dec. 6. The count is well below the 7-day moving average, which indicates a continuing downward trend. As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,777 beds housed COVID patients, a decrease of 345, or 16.2%, from seven days ago.

Similarly, the number of new cases reported each day continues to decline. The 7-day moving average had fallen to 2,178.57 as of Wednesday, roughly one-fourth lower than a week prior. The 14-day moving average is steadily decreasing but not as rapidly, reflecting the longer term’s tendency to smooth out spikes in data. Still, the 14-day average on Wednesday, 2,528.64 new cases per day, is down by about 9% from last week.

Statewide positivity rates are also in a decline over an extended period, with the 7-day average moving to 25.4% — a level not seen since the end of November. The 14-day rate stands at 16.15%.

In Jefferson County, the 14-day positivity rate is 12.48%, the fifth-lowest rate in Alabama. The county had 2,033 new cases in the past seven days, slightly below the previous week. There were 69 deaths in the period, down from 96 the week prior.

Vaccinations are picking up the pace across the state, with 104,695 doses administered in the week ending Jan. 30 and another 29,571 doses since Monday. Through Sunday, 392,624 doses have been given out of 808,925 delivered to health care providers in the state.

BirminghamWatch compiles its analyses based on data published by the ADPH, which gives updates daily on its COVID-19 home page.