Coronavirus hospitalizations remain near record levels in Alabama as new case count plateaus
COVID-19 numbers in Alabama remain close to the highest they have ever been as experts fear a further increase in cases may be on the horizon due to travel over the Christmas holiday.
The continuing bad news for coronavirus transmission in Alabama comes as health care workers received the first shots of Pfizer’s vaccine this week, marking a significant step in the state’s battle against the virus.
According to BamaTracker, Alabama averaged 2,615 new COVID-19 cases per day over the last week, slightly below the record rate of 2,722 but still nearly as high as the state has ever experienced.
Hospitals in Alabama are caring for 2,310 coronavirus patients as of Wednesday afternoon, down from the 2,351 high watermark set on Monday, but still a number putting significant strain on the state’s hospital capacity.
Yellowhammer references new cases as those confirmed by a PCR test conducted in a laboratory. When including what ADPH categorizes as “probable” positives — those from rapid testing devices and other detection methods — the state’s average rises to 3,636 new cases per day in the last week.
Hospitalizations generally lag trends in new cases by about two weeks, according to experts and past trends in case data.
Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s Public Health Officer, said at a briefing earlier in December that about 10% of those who test positive for the virus end up hospitalized.
UAB Hospital, Alabama’s largest and most lauded medical facility, is treating a record 171 COVID-19 patients, per an announcement on Wednesday.
“These are patients who are either very sick, unable to get better, or potentially unable to survive without medical attention and care,” the hospital advised.
The first doses of a coronavirus vaccine are being administered to health care workers this week after they arrived on Monday and Tuesday.
Some institutions, such as UAB, are still putting the final touches on the system they will use to distribute their allotment of doses.
After receiving a shipment of 10,725 doses, the university hospital says they will begin injecting recipients on Friday.
“UAB will vaccinate 7,507 hospital personnel (both UAB and other Jefferson County hospital personnel) 1,609 clinical personnel, as well as 1,609 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel from the seven-county region in a 40-mile radius,” the institution announced.
Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, given three weeks apart. The treatment has shown to be 52% effective after the first dose and rises to 95% effective after the second dose.
According to Pfizer, the full 95% effective rate does not occur until around two weeks after taking the second dose.
An approval for Moderna’s virtually identical vaccine is expected any day, and more shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are expected each week as more doses are manufactured.
The vaccine arrived during a week the state averaged 26 deaths of individuals with COVID-19 each day. Alabama’s total death toll of patients with the coronavirus is now at 3,704 with another 494 whose connection to coronavirus is listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by ADPH.