The number of COVID-19 cases in Alabama has unfortunately reached a bleak new milestone.
There are at least 500 cases of the virus in 48 of the state’s 67 counties.
The number has more than doubled in the past two days. At the end of the day Tuesday, the state had 242 cases of the virus. That number surged to 440 by Wednesday. Now it stands at 501.
Jefferson County remains the state’s hardest-hit area, with 148 of the 500 cases reported there, but public health officials say there is community transmission across the state as hospitals are already feeling the strain of increased patient loads.
UAB alone is caring for at least 62 patients with confirmed cases of the virus, at least half of them have required intubation and ventilator support.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s jobless claims — an indication of how many people are applying for unemployment insurance — soared to 40,000 in the first four days of the week.
The rate of growth of Alabama’s confirmed cases is stark. It has been much faster than Florida and Georgia, where hospitals in Atlanta are nearing their capacity.
The rate of growth is more similar to Louisiana, though not quite as severe. Louisiana is facing a ventilator and hospital bed shortage, and the president recently declared a major disaster.