The surge of COVID-19 that plagued Alabama and the nation over the summer continued its decline over the past week as summer gave way to fall.
The number of new cases reported each day by the Alabama Department of Public Health has fallen by more than 60% since the beginning of October. The 7-day moving average fell to 784 on Wednesday, a drop of 12% in the past seven days. The longer-term 14-day average fell to 838.57, a decrease of almost two-thirds from Oct. 1.
Since the Delta-induced summer surge peaked Sept. 1 with a 7-day average of 5,538, the new-case numbers have tumbled by more than 85%. The current level is still well above the low set just after Independence Day, 3½ months ago, when the average bottomed out at 121 cases per day.
The steady decrease is also shown in the state’s hospitalization numbers. Read more.
A north Alabama lawmaker wants to prohibit Alabama businesses and agencies from requiring their employees or patrons to be immunized.
House Bill 31 also says that anyone fired or discriminated against because of their immunization status — it doesn’t specifically mention COVID-19 — can sue the business or entity, which range in the bill from amusement parks to zoos.
“I feel like it’s my body, my choice,” Rep. Ritchie Whorton, a two-term Republican from Owens Cross Roads, told Alabama Daily News on Monday. “No one is going to tell me I have to put something in my body. It’s not right.”
The bill isn’t yet available on the Legislature’s website, but copies are floating around Montgomery — and drawing opposition from some of Alabama’s most influential organizations.
“(The Business Council of Alabama) is opposed to HB 31 and any similar legislation that opens Alabama businesses up to frivolous lawsuits,” BCA Vice President Susan Carothers told ADN.
“Very few, if any, laws have been introduced in the Alabama Legislature with more onerous provisions against business than HB 31,” the Alabama Civil Justice Reform Committee said in a letter opposing the bill. Read more.
Wages have gone up as restaurants try to hold onto their staff amid a record number of people quitting their jobs in the U.S., especially in the South. Read more.
The effects of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus have subsided in Alabama almost as quickly as they peaked.
In a BirminghamWatch analysis of the state’s pandemic data, the 7-day moving average of new daily cases has fallen below the 1,000 mark, six weeks after it surpassed 5,500 — the highest reading since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported on Wednesday that the 7-day average stands at 893.14 new cases per day. That reading comes a day after dropping below 1,000 and is now roughly one-seventh of the record set Sept. 1.
By comparison, the recent Delta surge took seven weeks to skyrocket from the previous low point of 121 cases per day on July 7 to the peak. And though the current level is still considerably higher than that low point, the downward direction of the curve is very close to the inverse of the upward slope in summer. Read more.
About $46.8 billion. Billion with a B.
That’s how much federal COVID-19 relief money has gone to Alabama residents, businesses and government agencies since the pandemic began.
About $30.3 billion of that has been given directly to individuals and businesses to assist them, Kirk Fulford, deputy director of the Legislative Services Agency, told state lawmakers recently. About $6.3 billion was in the Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans to help businesses weather the economic drought caused by COVID-related shutdowns.
And nearly twice that much, $12.6 billion, has gone directly to individuals in stimulus checks.
The money had a big impact on the state’s record tax receipts for fiscal 2021, which ended last week, Fulford said. That’s especially true in the Education Trust Fund, where sales and income tax are the main contributors. Read more.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals has fallen below 1,000 for the first time since mid-July as case numbers continue to tumble since the peak from a summer surge of the delta variant.
There were 970 patients being treated for the coronavirus in hospitals around the state on Friday, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. That is the lowest since a total of 957 on July 16, and down by about 66% since the inpatient count reached a peak of 2,890 on Sept. 1.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 919 new cases of COVID in its daily update on Saturday. The state averaged 1,097 new cases a day over the past week, almost 77% below the average of 3,962 cases per day on Sept. 8. ADPH has reported 807,479 cases since the pandemic began in March 2020.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases per day has fallen by about 70% over the past month as the vaccination rate has grown, according to Friday’s update by the state Department of Public Health.
There were 1,048 new cases on Friday, raising the total to 806,560 since the pandemic began in March 2020. The state has averaged 1,177 new cases a day during the past week — about 70% lower than the weekly average of 3,962 cases on Sept. 8.
Figures compiled by The New York Times show that, through Thursday, 53% of adults in Alabama had received at least one dose of one of the COVID vaccines, and 43% were full vaccinated. Less than one-third of Alabamians were fully vaccinated during the summer. Alabama has moved up from last among the states in vaccination rates to fourth from the bottom.
Ava Wise was thinking first of others as she considered what would have happened if the federal Paycheck Protection Program had not provided her employer with money to pay her during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We may not have been open to serve people,” said Wise, director of Project Hopewell, a nonprofit formed under Hopewell Baptist Church in Birmingham’s Hillman Station Neighborhood.
Effects of the COVID-19 relief program hit close to home for Wise and others who benefited from federal relief money that was paid to businesses, state and local governments, and churches and other organizations.
Without the payroll assistance, she said, “We can’t pay our bills. We can’t buy food. It cuts off our livelihood.”
Although it is unusual for churches, synagogues, mosques and groups with religious affiliations to receive taxpayer money, many were awarded federal stimulus funds during the pandemic. While churches may be tax-exempt, their employees pay taxes to city, state and federal governments. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s PPP program was designed to cover the payrolls of recipients.
A review by BirminghamWatch of federal records listed about 321 applicants from Jefferson County that identified themselves as religious organizations received loans totaling $39.7 million during a 14-month period under the PPP program.
The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 1,262 new cases of COVID-19 and added 63 deaths from the disease on Thursday as the daily averages continued to decline.
The state has recorded 805,511 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began in March 2020. There has been an average of 1,291 cases a day over the past week, a significant drop from the average of 5,538 cases daily at the peak of the delta variant surge on Sept. 1 and 2,080 a week ago.
There have been 14,675 deaths from COVID in the state through the course of the pandemic. The total has risen by an average of 54 a day during the past seven days, compared to a peak of 134 daily on Sept. 23. It takes about two weeks for a death to be report and confirmed as being from the coronavirus.
Alabamians have a chance right now to substantially reduce COVID cases in the state, UAB officials said in a press conference Wednesday.
The state is seeing a downtick in the number of new COVID cases; in fact, the Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported the number of new cases had dropped for the 17th consecutive day.
Delta is the primary variant of the COVID virus that is circulating in the state and in the U.S., said Russell Griffin, Ph.D and associate professor at the UAB School of Public Health. Continuing vaccinations could prevent another variant from forming.
UAB epidemiologist Dr. Rachael Lee added that higher vaccination rates, the advent of booster shots and natural immunity built up by those who have had COVID all are weapons in the war against the virus.
Making headway now depends on the community not becoming complacent but continuing to wear masks, get vaccinated and stay home when they are sick, she said. Read more.