New coronavirus cases in Alabama at highest point since July, hospitalizations increasing sharply
Alabama’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are increasing rapidly, causing alarm among health experts as they approach levels not seen since the summer.
Over the last week, the state has added 1,635 cases per day, a 24% increase over the same time last week and a rate only slightly below the 1,851 per day the state experienced at its highest point in July, according to BamaTracker.
There are currently 1,315 individuals in an Alabama hospital with COVID-19, a 6% increase from November 12. The largest number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital experienced by the state was 1,615 on August 6.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, an infectious disease expert at UAB Hospital, described Alabama’s current coronavirus transmission rates as “borderline out of control” during a briefing on Wednesday.
Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, told FOX10 in Mobile that the state’s “ability to contain the virus has been lost,” and that everything was in place “to have a disaster between now and the end of December.”
Officials continue to urge mask-wearing and social distancing as the primary ways of mitigating the spread of the disease.
In multiple public comments, Williamson has estimated that “mask fatigue” and a general weariness around coronavirus guidelines have led to the current spike in numbers.
Health experts nationwide have linked the wave of cases, which nearly every state in America is experiencing, to small gatherings among friends and family instead of larger superspreader events.
Worrying continues among close observers of the virus as Thanksgiving looms next week, followed by Christmas a month later.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published guidelines on Thursday urging citizens to consider limiting travel and only gathering with the smallest of groups on Thanksgiving.
The number of tests being reported daily has spiked in Alabama over the last week, with 10,732 being reported each day, a 35% increase over the last seven days.
Over the last week, 15.24% of all tests came back positive, a figure often cited by officials as a warning sign. A positivity rate between 1% and 5% has been established as ideal by epidemiologists.
Transmission of the virus also remains widespread throughout the state, with 64 of Alabama’s 67 counties reporting a new case on Thursday.
In the last seven days, an average of 22 Alabamians per day have been reported as dead due to COVID-19.
The state’s cumulative death toll is now 3,123 with another 296 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
While the state experienced concerning numbers, news of how the coming COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed in Alabama was made this week, with ADPH announcing certain high-risk groups like health care workers will get the first doses in December if the FDA approves the vaccines.
However, experts like Marrazzo warn that there will be a several-month lag between when the first doses of the vaccine are given out and when the larger public will be able to get it. Current estimates peg sometime around April of 2021 as when vaccines will be widely available, with certain coronavirus mitigation tactics necessary until then.