Alabama’s coronavirus hospitalizations and new cases continue to rise
Alabama’s coronavirus numbers have risen for the fourth straight week. The state is currently experiencing a number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals it has not seen since late August.
On average, 1,249 Alabamians have come down with a confirmed case of the coronavirus each day over the last week, a 12% increase over the rate of new infections a week ago.
Alabama currently has 1,171 individuals in the hospital due to COVID-19, a figure not seen since August 23. The state’s hospitals had 990 COVID-19 patients last Thursday.
Dr. Don Williamson, head of the Alabama Hosptial Association, told WBRC the increasing hospitalization count had him “really worried,” especially ahead of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
The worrying coronavirus numbers come during a week where perhaps the best COVID-19 news of the entire pandemic appeared: Pfizer released initial data on its vaccine candidate that showed it to be 90% effective.
UAB Hospital vaccine expert Dr. Paul Goepfert called the development “tremendous news,” but others think it may have a negative secondary effect.
“People have mask fatigue. They think because we have a vaccine lurking over the horizon that this is over,” Williamson surmised with regards to Alabama’s increasing numbers.
Yellowhammer News refers to new cases as ones who have been confirmed by a molecular test performed in a laboratory. When including results from rapid tests like those made by Abbott Labs, Alabama’s seven-day average jumps to 1,640 per day.
Alabama averaged 122 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per day in the last week, down from 125 per day one week ago.
However, that average is occasionally vulnerable to misleading numbers due to irregular reporting by hospitals on the date when COVID-19 patients enter. It hit both 75 and 141 at different points over this past week.
Especially worrying to health officials is the continued high rate of coronavirus tests in Alabama coming back positive.
Over the last two weeks, 21.54% of all tests in the Yellowhammer State have returned a positive result, much higher than the 1% to 5% range necessary for the virus to be considered under control.
The positivity rate remains high, even as the number of tests per day has remained roughly flat for a month.
Coronavirus continues to be widely spread across the state; 61 of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new case on Thursday.
The Alabama Department of Health began a review of coronavirus death data this week that may alter the totals, so Yellowhammer News is not breaking down that metric as usual.
Currently, the state’s death toll is 2,970 with another 243 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed as COVID-19 related by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Experts continue to warn that wearing a mask and staying six feet apart from others at all times is the best way to combat the virus.
UAB expert Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo remarked Wednesday about the COVID-19 risks over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“Any place where you are sharing food, sharing utensils, breathing close to each other,” are potential avenues for transmission, she warned.
Marrazzo added that if people congregate, “you’ve got to be incredibly thoughtful” and take the proper precautions.