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Alabama is 49th in life expectancy, falling further behind the national average

Brandon Moseley

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A new study published in the Journal of Medicine looked at life expectancy as well as expected life lived without disabilities and how that has changed since 1990. Alabama was 49th in the latest state rankings.

The article was written by Dr. Christopher J. L. Murray, MD, DPhil, with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington; but a number of professors are cited as being collaborators in the study on the U.S. Burden of Disease.

In 1990 life expectancy in Alabama was 73.7 years. That was 47 in the country then. Life expectancy in the state has improved in 2016 to 75.4 years. That is almost what the national average was in 1990, 75.5 years of age, but the rest of the nation has also improved in that time period so Alabama is now ranked at 49 for life expectancy.

The gap is growing.

In 1990, Alabama was ranked low, but the state was only 1.7 years below the national average. Today, the national average has grown to 78.9 years. The gap between Alabama and the national average has now grown to 3.5 years, more than double the gap that existed 26 years earlier. The state with the highest life expectancy is Hawaii.

Hawaii had the highest life expectancy in 1990 too. The gap between Alabama and Hawaii was just 4.8 years. Today, the life expectancy in Hawaii is 81.3 years. The gap between Alabama and Hawaii has increased from 4.8 years to 5.9 years a 22.9 percent increase.

California now has the second best life expectancy. In 1990, they were in 24th place but have seen rapid improvement in life expectancy going from 75.9 year to 80.9 years. Life expectancy in California has improved by 5 years in the last 26 years, a much faster rate of improvement than what we have experienced in Alabama (5 years in CA vs 1.7 for AL). Only West Virginia (75.3) and Mississippi (74.7) are worse than Alabama.

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The study’s authors also calculated healthy life expectancy. That is the number of years that a typical person can expect to live before age, accidents, and/or health cripples them with a major disability. Nationally, that has improved from 65.3 years in 1990 to 67.7 years in 2016. In 1990 Alabama was ranked 48th in healthy life expectancy at 63.7 years.

In 2016, Alabama is still 48th in that statistic, despite improving to 64.6 years. There the gap between Alabama and the national average has also grown. In 1990, Alabama trailed the national average by just 1.6 years. Since then, Alabama has improved by .9 years, but the gap between Alabama and the national average has increased to 3.1 years. In 1990, the state with the highest healthy life expectancy was Hawaii at 68.2 years, 4.5 years better than Alabama at the time.

In 2016 Hawaii had improved its healthy life expectancy to 70.1 years. They now lead Alabama in healthy life expectancy by 5.5 years. Hawaii is now #2 in healthy life expectancy trailing Minnesota at 70.3. The gap between Alabama and the highest state has grown from 4.5 years to 5.7 years. Only Oklahoma (64.5), Kentucky (64.3) and West Virginia (63.8) were worse than Alabama. Washington was included in this study so there were 51 “states” rather than 50.

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The study’s authors claim that deaths by cardiovascular disease have decreased due to more cholesterol and blood pressure drugs and more access to emergency treatment. Deaths caused by alcohol have increased 17.5 percent since 1990. Increased drug use has increased the death rates since 1990 for persons between the ages 20 and 55 in 21 states. Rising BMI (body mass index) is leading to increased diabetes in almost every state. Alabama has one of the highest diabetes rates in the nation.

This study was supported in part by the Intramural Program of the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Corruption

Arrest warrant issued for Rep. Will Dismukes for felony theft

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been accused of theft of property, a Class B felony. (WSFA)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, for felony theft from a business where he worked, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Bailey said during a press conference.

Bailey said the charge is a Class B felony and levied when a person steals in excess of $2,500 and that “I will tell you that the alleged amount is a lot more than that.” 

“The warrant has just been signed, his attorney has been notified and we are giving him until late this afternoon to turn himself in,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the employer contacted the district attorney’s office with a complaint about the theft on May 20, and after reviewing bank records and interviewing witnesses, the decision was made to charge Dismukes with the theft. 

WSFA reported Thursday that the theft occurred at Dismukes’ former employer, Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc. in East Montgomery. Bailey did not provide any more specifics on the charge but said the employer signed the arrest warrant after countless hours of investigation on the part of the DA’s office.

While the charge stems from a complaint filed months ago, Dismukes been in the headlines recently and faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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The event was hosted by an individual with close ties to the League of the South, a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, Dismukes stepped down from his post as a pastor at an Autauga County Baptist church but defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature.

If convicted of the felony, Dismukes would be immediately removed from his seat in the Alabama House, to which he was elected in 2018.

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In June, the Alabama Democratic Party called for his resignation over previous social media posts glorifying the Confederacy.

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Economy

New unemployment claims continue to drop

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

There were 11,692 unemployment claims filed in Alabama last week, down from 17,439 the previous week, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Seventy-six percent of the claims from July 26 to Aug. 1 were related to COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. That compares to 89 percent the week before.

New claims increased over the first half of July but declined in the second half.

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Health

Alabama nursing homes can’t use rapid COVID-19 test machines without federal guidance

In Alabama, there were 686 coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities as of Wednesday, which was 42 percent of the state’s 1,639 COVID-19 deaths at that point.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Some Alabama nursing homes have received rapid, point-of-care COVID-19 test machines, but without guidance from the federal agency that sent them, the machines aren’t being used.

It’s been three weeks since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a nationwide conference call with nursing home administrators announced plans to disburse the machines, which can provide results in 15 minutes.

John Matson, director of communications for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, told the Alabama Political Reporter on Wednesday that CMS has said it will send the rapid testing machines to 78 Alabama nursing homes to start, and eventually will supply one to each nursing home in the state. He said some of those 78 facilities have received them while some are still waiting for delivery.

“The biggest thing we’re waiting on from CMS is guidance on when and how it wants us to use these machines,” Matson said.

Matson said that CMS officials on the July 16 conference call said that regulations and guidance on the testing machines weren’t yet ready, but that the agency wanted to go ahead and disburse the machines.

“They wanted to distribute machines and then let the guidance and the regulations catch up,” Matson said.

The Trump administration touted the rapid tests machines’ ability to bolster testing in nursing homes, which care for older, sick people who are at most risk of serious complications and death due to coronavirus.

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As of July 30, 43 states reported 62,925 COVID-19 deaths, which was 44 percent of all coronavirus deaths in those states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In Alabama, there were 686 coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities as of Wednesday, which was 42 percent of the state’s 1,639 COVID-19 deaths at that point.

While nursing home administrators await those federal guidelines to be able to use the rapid test machines, it’s taking longer to get COVID-19 test results from many labs. Matson said some nursing homes are seeing wait times for results as long as a week, which public health experts say makes the results nearly worthless.

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“Not every nursing home is experiencing that, but we do know that some are experiencing a longer turnaround time,” Matson said.  “As we’ve said before, knowledge is key, and when we run those tests we need those tests results back in a timely manner so we know how to properly treat our patients and our employees.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health on July 31 said that as Alabama continues to see an increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases, it’s taking commercial labs and ADPH’s lab an average of seven days to get results.

ADPH in the release states that the lengthier turnaround time for test results is due to several factors, including supply chain problems with test reagents, more demand for coronavirus tests nationwide, “and in some cases, increased numbers of unnecessary tests.”

“I think it’s important to emphasize that that is essentially a worthless result,” said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of infectious disease at UAB, during a press briefing July 30. “At that point, all it tells you is that six days ago you were negative.”

And there are problems with the rapid testing machine’s accuracy. CMS has said the machines have an error rate of between 15 and 20 percent, and that a negative test result on the machines shouldn’t be used to rule out a possible case.

“Negative results should generally be treated as presumptive, do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection and should not be used as the sole basis for treatment or patient management decisions, including infection control decisions,” CMS said in a FAQ on the rapid test machines for nursing homes.

Matson said CMS told nursing homes that while a negative test result should be followed up with a subsequent lab test to be certain, a positive result on the rapid test machines very likely means the person has coronavirus.

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Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.

Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

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Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

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