Number of COVID Cases Down, but Alabama’s Vaccination Rate Continues to Lag

The good news for Alabama on the COVID-19 front is that the numbers of new cases and deaths continue to stay near record-low levels.

The bad news is that vaccination rates are way behind most of the rest of the United States.

In BirminghamWatch’s periodic analysis of the state’s COVID numbers, the percentage of Alabamians who have received their full vaccine regimen — a single injection for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, two for Pfizer and Moderna — is currently at 29.8%, according to the Johns Hopkins University rankings. That rate is the second-lowest among the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, with only neighboring Mississippi (27.2%) trailing Alabama.

As of Tuesday, 1,481,073 state residents had the full dosage, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health, with 1,797,291 people getting at least one shot.

Vaccinations have declined steadily since a peak of 44,472 doses administered on April 8. The most recent weekday total, reported on June 18, was 8,582 doses. That’s a drop of more than 80% from the high in April. However, weekday vaccinations have stayed above 7,000 a day since June 1, ending a sharp decline that followed the April 8 peak.

Vermont leads the country with 58.59% of its residents fully vaccinated, a percentage that is roughly double that of Alabama.

The nmber of new COVID cases has slowed to nearly a trickle across the state, with 1,071 cases reported over the past week for an average of 153 cases per day. That compares with 1,478 cases, or 211.14 per day, over the previous week. The 14-day moving average stands at 182.07 new cases per day.

Forty deaths were reported across Alabama in the past seven days for an average of 5.71 deaths per day, fractionally above the previous week when a total of 39 deaths were reported. The 14-day average is 5.64 daily deaths. The death rate has been inching downward over the past two months, with the last double-digit 7-day average posted on April 30.

The number of hospital beds occupied by COVID patients in Alabama has stayed below 200 for the past 12 days, though the total has risen slightly in the past three days. Wednesday’s total stood at 193 beds, higher than the 7-day average of 178.86. Still, it’s the first time since the end of March 2020 that bed counts have been this low.

Locally, UAB Hospital reported just seven COVID-19 inpatients on Tuesday, the lowest total reported by Birmingham’s largest hospital since six COVID beds were filled on March 20, 2020, which was just a few days after widespread reports of infections began. UAB’s peak came on Jan. 3 of this year when 215 inpatients were positive for the virus — more than 30 times the current number. UAB is also caring for 19 additional patients who are described as “convalesced,” which means they are not actively positive for COVID but are still recovering from its effects.

Jefferson County officials reported 109 new cases of the virus and six additional deaths in the seven days ending Tuesday.

BirminghamWatch takes its data from the ADPH, which reports COVID infections and deaths on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It reports hospitalizations on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Additional data comes from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.