After rising steadily since the first week of October, new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Alabama have begun decreasing in recent days.
Alabama has seen a 9% decrease in hospitalized coronavirus patients over the last week. As of Monday, the state has 2,798 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, a decline of 286 from the all-time high of 3,084 recorded on January 11.
In the last week, Alabama has averaged 2,019 new COVID-19 cases per day, an enormous drop from the 3,080 per day witnessed on January 11.
The current rate of new cases is likely lower than reality due to a slowdown in reporting usually caused by a holiday weekend, but the decrease began in the early days of last week.
Yellowhammer News refers to cases as those confirmed by a molecular test performed in a laboratory. When including results from rapid tests and other methods of COVID-19 detection, the average rises.
Hospitalizations, like cases, have sometimes seen rapid jumps in totals just after a holiday weekend. Again, like cases, the declines began before the holiday weekend.
Several Alabama counties, including Jefferson and Madison, are now considered “low risk” for coronavirus transmission by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
ADPH calculates the county risk assessments each Thursday.
The virus remains widespread in the state, even as the risk is lower than in recent months. Of Alabama’s 67 counties, 63 reported a new coronavirus case on Monday.
A metric closely watched by health officials, the percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive for the virus each day has decreased from 31% to 23% over the last week.
Alabama’s death toll from the virus is now estimated to be 6,121.
Of those, 5,099 have been confirmed as coronavirus deaths by the Alabama Department of Public Health, and another 1,022 are considered “probable” COVID-19 deaths but have not yet been confirmed by the department.
Over the course of the pandemic, it has been rare for a probable COVID-19 death not to ultimately be certified as a coronavirus death.
Deaths reported in one week usually occurred in weeks, or even months, before being logged by APDPH. The agency has recency confirmed a large spate of coronavirus deaths, but few occurred in the week prior to the reporting.
More positively, Alabama’s vaccine distribution program has picked up pace after a slower than wished for launch.
Alabama has now administered 148,685 vaccine doses as of Monday afternoon.
The state had only given out 89,763 doses on the week ending January 9. Alabama hospitals received their first doses in the middle of December.
The federal government has now shipped 379,875 vaccine doses to Alabama, meaning that 39.14% of the state’s received doses have gone into the arms of its citizens.
Alabama has been allotted 640,150 doses of vaccine, meaning only 59.34% of the state’s promised product has been delivered as of Monday.
Both vaccines require two doses, administered three to four weeks apart, to reach their full effectiveness.
Monday, January 18, marks the first day that Alabamians age 75 and up and non-medical first responders like police officers and firefighters are eligible to receive the vaccine.
ADPH estimates there are around 350,000 citizens of the state age 75 and over. An estimate of the number of people eligible due to service as a first responder was not provided.
The state’s nursing home residents and medical workers — the initial categories slated to get the vaccine — remain eligible to do so. APDH estimates Alabama has over 300,000 health care workers.
Due to limited supply, it is likely that the vast majority of Alabamians will not be able to receive a vaccination for a few more months.
Health officials are urging continued mask-wearing and social distancing to continue mitigating the spread of the virus.