Alabama’s COVID-19 case numbers had been declining recently, but that’s taken a turn for the worse in the past few weeks.
Like much of the country, Alabama has seen increases in the moving averages of new cases per day, with the 7-day average now at 1,183.57 per day and the 14-day average at 1,147.57. Hospitalizations also have spiked to more than 1,000 for the first time in two months.
The cumulative total of positive tests as of Wednesday had risen to 187,706. Of those, 160,380 are confirmed cases and the rest are probable.
The moving averages of new daily cases are now at their highest levels since early September, though they still are still well below the peaks of July, when the state was averaging just fewer than 2,000 new cases per day. The 7-day average has increased by 41.8% since its most recent low on Sept. 12, and the 14-day average is up by 29.3% over its low on Sept. 19.
Those higher numbers were calculated by BirminghamWatch after taking into account recent periodic spikes in the numbers of cases reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health that were caused because some laboratories had submitted a large number of backlogged older test results.
For instance, last week, two days of sharp spikes in the numbers were due to a dump of case reports dating back as far as August. Using additional ADPH data, BirminghamWatch was able to account for the old cases separately and adjust those daily totals downward to accurately calculate moving averages for the past two weeks.
There also are unwelcome trends upward in the statewide number of hospitalizations and the positivity rate — the percentage of total tests that return positive results.
For the first time since the end of August, the number of COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds is above the 1,000 mark. Wednesday’s report showed 1,013 hospitalized patients, with a 7-day average of 941.17. The total is up 44% from a recent low on Sept. 25.
The 14-day moving average of the positivity rate has climbed to an all-time high of 20.73%, which means more than one out of every five people who took a coronavirus test in that period were found to be positive for the virus.
While the number of new positive cases has been on the increase, the spike in the positivity rate also can be attributed in part to fewer tests being administered over the past two weeks. The current percentage is more than four times the 5% level that immunology experts consider to be the maximum goal.
The number of currently active cases has risen to 79,442 as of Oct. 21, the most recent count available. That number is up by almost 6,000 from the previous week.
But the data does show some relatively good news in the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19. The moving averages of daily deaths are in decline after a rise over the first half of October, with the 7-day average at 11.86 deaths per day and the 14-day average standing at 12.48. The 7-day mark had been as high as 23.29 a little more than a week ago.
In total, Alabama has had 2,911 reported deaths since the pandemic’s outset, with 2,713 of those confirmed and 198 probable.
Alabama’s upward COVID-19 trends are similar to those in other states, with several in the northern Great Plains seeing severe spikes. Wisconsin currently reports more than 10,000 people hospitalized by COVID-19, with more than 5,200 new cases on Tuesday. Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota have also seen surges in new cases.
The pandemic has also affected major sports events. The Wisconsin Badgers have canceled their Big Ten Conference game Saturday against Nebraska after head coach Paul Chryst and 11 others with the program tested positive. The 2021 edition of the Boston Marathon has been postponed from April until at least next fall.
Closer to home, Jefferson County has had 23,769 cases since the pandemic began, with 965 new cases in the past week. The county’s death toll now stands at 383, with seven added in the past week. The county positivity rate is up to 13.52%, the highest recorded in the past two months.
Here are total cases, tests conducted and deaths in each county, as reported by the ADPH:
|Tested (Diagnostic & Antibody):