In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of COVID data, the 7-day average of new cases reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health is down to 294.86 per day. That is a drop of 93% from the record set almost three months ago, and it’s the first time the average has dropped below 300 since May 19.
The longer-term 14-day average is now at 338.64 new cases per day, which is 98 cases lower than a week ago, a percentage drop of better than 22%. The last time the average was that low was on May 24. Since the January all-time high, the 14-day average is down by 91.5%.
The death toll, however, has increased in the past week, with the 7-day average rising to 17.86 per day. That mark is 86% above the reading of 9.57 a week ago and was affected by a data spike of 84 deaths reported over the weekend. The 14-day average rose to 14.43 deaths per day, a slight hike over the previous week.
The decline in the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients continued in the past seven days. As of Wednesday, 310 inpatients are diagnosed with COVID or recovering from the effects of the virus, down by 53 from a week prior. That figure is down by more than 1,000 inpatients in less than two months.
Jefferson County had 293 new COVID cases in the past seven days, a 7-day average of 41.85 cases per day. That’s down from 382 new cases over the week, a drop of 30.4%. Seven deaths were reported over the week.
The county’s 14-day average positivity rate now stands at 4.51%, which marks the first time since June that the rate has fallen below 5%, the level health officials cite as the maximum desired rate. The rate, however, is affected by the number of COVID-19 tests administered over the same time period, and in Jefferson County that number has fallen to a 7-day average of 387.71 tests per day for the week ending Monday, the most recent data available. The number of daily tests was averaging 1,000 or more as recently as Feb. 11.
The ADPH reports than 721,094 people in Alabama have now received both doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, and 1,217,607 people have had at least one dose. A total of 1,885,696 doses have been administered out of 2,963,745 delivered to the state, which has a population of almost 5 million.
Nationwide, five states are seeing significant hikes in the number of new cases. According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and reported by the Associated Press, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Florida account for more that 44% of all new cases over the most recent 7-day reporting period. Those five states combine for 22% of the country’s total population.
This week marks the last in which Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Safer Apart” order, which requires the use of face masks in most public places, will be enforced. On Wednesday, Ivey issued a newly amended order that goes into effect Friday at 5 p.m., which removes the mandate for masks. “Masks will no longer be mandated statewide, but individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by Ivey’s office.
Despite the relaxing of the statewide requirement, the mayors of Birmingham and Montgomery have opted to keep mask mandates in place, as have the Birmingham City and Jefferson County schools. Individual businesses may also require workers and customers to still wear masks, and Ivey’s staff even posted digital files for signs for businesses to show whether masks are required or just recommended.
BirminghamWatch’s analysis is based on numbers updated each day by the ADPH on its website.