Signs of Hope: Alabama’s COVID-19 Data Starting to Steady

There are some optimistic observations in Alabama’s COVID-19 new-case rate, though it’s a bit early to know whether it is a full-blown trend.

Figures through Wednesday show that, after peaking early in the week, the 7-day and 14-day moving averages have declined, and the daily percentage rate of increase in new cases has dipped below 2% for three of the past four days. The 7-day average percentage increase is now just above that mark, after peaking above 3% almost two weeks ago.

In Birmingham Watch’s weekly analysis of data reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health, the 7-day moving average of new cases for the period ending July 29 stands at 1,594.14 per day, down by 147 cases from a week prior and by almost 257 from the peak set on July 19. The longer-term 14-day moving average is at 1,667.64, down from a high of last Saturday of 1,787.14.

The total of positive cases statewide stood Wednesday at 81,572, an increase of 11,159 cases from seven days ago. The doubling rate — the time needed for the cumulative total to double — has increased from 23 to 33 days. At this rate, Alabama should likely reach 100,000 positive cases on or about Aug. 9, six days later than forecast last week.

The daily positivity rate — the percentage of positive results diagnosed among all those tested — continues to climb, however, and stands at its highest rate since April. As of Wednesday, the 7-day average stood at 19.25%, up by 1.3% over the week. That increase may be due in part to a decrease in the number of tests administered; the 7-day average slipped to 8,282, down from a peak of 10,540 on July 20. The positivity rate is the criterion used by several states (notably, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) to determine whether to mandate 14-day quarantines of travelers returning from another state. Above 15% is considered a dangerous level, and also a warning that testing needs to increase.

The state’s COVID-19 death toll through Wednesday was up to 1,489, an increase of 164 over the previous week. The 7-day average of deaths reported each day was up to 23.43, three per day higher than a week ago but down from a record high of 27 on Monday. The 14-day moving average also climbed to 21.93, up by one death over the week-ago level but down from a high of 25 on Monday. Death rates are typically a lagging indicator, meaning the trend typically trails behind new-case data by a couple of weeks.

Jefferson County led the state once again in the number of positive cases through Wednesday with 10,690, increasing by 1,415 (15.2%) in the past week and an average 202.14 new cases per day. That average is still the highest in Alabama but is roughly 30% down from the week prior.

Mobile County was second in the state for total cases with 7,693 through Wednesday, an increase of 1,250 from last week; its 7-day average is 178.57. Montgomery County was third with 5,885 cases, up 556 from the week before. Madison County has moved from sixth to fourth in total cases at 4,051, a hike of 310 new cases in the period but a large drop compared to 840 the previous week; its 7-day average is 44.48. Tuscaloosa County was fifth with 3,694 total cases, up by 412 for the period but down slightly from the previous week.

Jefferson County moved up Wednesday to a state-high 208 deaths attributed to COVID-19, with 18 new deaths in the last week. (Not included in these figures is the 12 deaths reported in Jefferson County on Thursday) Mobile County has had 180 deaths with 12 in the last week, and Montgomery County reported 138, up by 11. Tallapoosa County is fourth on the list with 78 deaths, and Tuscaloosa County has now reported 61 deaths.

High levels of hospitalizations continue to be a problem statewide. As of Wednesday, ADPH reported 1,598 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals statewide, with a 7-day moving average of 1,556.29 patients. The 7-day average of new hospitalizations stood at 193.57 as of Wednesday, up by 28 patients per day from a week ago.

Birmingham Watch computes the moving averages based the data updated daily by the ADPH.

#   #   #