Alabama saw its largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases Monday, according to the state, as daily case counts continue an upward trend and hospitals across the state report increasing hospitalizations.
Alabama blew past 15,000 confirmed cases of the virus on Monday, according to the Department of Public Health’s daily case count. The state had confirmed more than 3,200 new cases in the last seven days, according to APR‘s tracking.
By Tuesday evening, the total reached 15,650. The rising case counts are concerning doctors and public health experts who worry the public is not taking the virus as seriously since the state lifted restrictions.
“I’m afraid that we’re going to have to go through some pretty tough times to drive the message home that this virus is still here, and it’s not going away,” said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert at UAB.
More than 400 new cases were confirmed daily, on average, during the week heading into Memorial Day, the highest level since the pandemic began and much higher than during the second and third weeks of April, when Alabama was under a stay-at-home order and expected to reach what was then thought to be a peak.
Gov. Kay Ivey lifted the state’s “stay-at-home” order on April 30, replacing it with a “safer-at-home” order that loosened restrictions. Since then, the state has twice more relaxed restrictions, allowing more businesses, churches and entertainment venues to reopen with social-distancing restrictions and sanitation guidelines.
The state saw its largest single-day increase in new cases Monday at 646 new cases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s daily case totals, a little more than three weeks after the stay-at-home order expired on April 30 and two weeks after the state allowed restaurants and bars to reopen on May 11 with social-distancing restrictions.
The number of cases confirmed per day has been rising since April 30, showing no sign of slowing. Over the past week, new cases rose faster than in 46 other states with no comparable increase in testing.
APR uses 7- and 14-day rolling averages to smooth out daily variability in reporting. APR‘s daily totals vary from ADPH’s because APR tracks only the daily change to the cumulative case count.
Both our rolling averages and the averages calculated by the Department of Public Health are higher than they ever have been, meaning that more new cases are being confirmed per day than ever before.
At least 580 people have died from COVID-19 in Alabama. At least 76 deaths have been reported in the last seven days.
“We had done a pretty good job of avoiding the surge in cases that concerned us a month ago about overwhelming the hospital,” Saag said. “But now we’re headed right back to where we were on April 1, and I don’t think there’s any appetite among the general population nor of our political leaders to do much more about it.”
Testing has increased since May 1, more than doubling from 94,406 total tests performed on May 1 to nearly 194,000 by Tuesday evening.
But the number of tests reported per day has remained relatively flat since the beginning of the month at between 3,500 and 4,500 tests per day, based on 7- and 14-day averages, which is still far below the level of testing public health experts say is needed.
Public health experts who spoke with APR said the increase in new cases is concerning and is not simply the byproduct of increased testing.
“We know that if we’re testing the right number of people that the percentage of positive tests should be about 5 percent or so,” Saag said. “So if we’re in an area like a lot of our counties in Alabama, where the percent positive test rate is 20 percent or 13 percent, that means that there are a lot more cases out there for whom there are no tests available. So, if anything, we’re underestimating the caseload.”
The percent of tests that are positive, based on 7-day averages of new tests and new cases, was as low as 3 percent on May 1, but has since increased to more than 10 percent.
Those who say the situation is under control and increased testing is the only cause for the rise in cases are just simply wrong, Saag said.
“The fact is that they’re not walking through the hospital like I am, or all the other nurses and doctors are, and seeing the entire ICU just loaded with only COVID patients on ventilators and full units in our hospital that have only COVID patients,” Saag said.
If you test more, you’re going to find more, but only if the virus is still there.
“You can test until the cows come home,” Saag said. “The problem is, there’s a lot of cases here that are undiagnosed.”
In addition to looking at the percentage of tests that come back positive, which has been climbing in the last two weeks, hospitalizations also provide are a more timely indicator of how the pandemic is progressing.
Over the last week, the number of COVID-19 positive inpatients at DCH Health System in Tuscaloosa County has doubled from 35 on May 19 to 74 Tuesday. At least 20 of those patients are in intensive care units and 10 are on ventilators.
“When the hospitalization rates increase. It’s a reflection of the overall cases going up,” Saag said.
Statewide, hospitalization numbers are not yet available for this week, but last week hospitals reported their highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began.
In Jefferson County, hospitalizations are creeping back up after a lull throughout much of April, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said last week. Cases are also rising again in Jefferson County.
And in Montgomery County, where the mayor and hospitals have reported a shortage of ICU beds, the patient count remains high as the county reports an ongoing, worrisome spike in new cases.
“We have places to put people, and we have got plenty of ventilators, but having said that, the intensive care scenario in the hospitals is definitely stretched,” said Dr. David Thrasher, the director of respiratory therapy at Jackson Hospital whose respiratory therapy group works critical care at all of the Montgomery area hospitals.
“The weekend before, my partner and I rounded around 140 patients. And this morning, we had 145 patients,” Thrasher said. “That is more than twice our normal volume. Normally, May is a slow month for us. The great majority of what we’re seeing in the hospital is COVID patients.”
ICU units at Montgomery area hospitals have been dedicated to treating COVID patients, and those units have been full, and hospitals have been out or nearly out of formal ICU beds, though there are enough ventilators to equip other areas to retrofit as intensive care beds.
“This weekend, there were just a few ICU beds left, but having said that, there were three emergency rooms I know of that had patients down there that we were treating,” Thrasher said.
Montgomery has seen its case count more than triple since the month began.
“We’re surging,” Thrasher said. “We have got a lot more cases than we had a month ago, and a heck of a lot more cases than we did during the first 30 days of this pandemic.”
The increased patient load has put a physical and emotional strain on health care workers and staff, Thrasher said.
“It’s very difficult, very emotionally difficult for the doctors, the nurses, the therapists and of course the patients’ families,” he said.
Typically, most patients come off a ventilator in a matter of days, depending on what the cause is. That’s not the case with COVID-19.
“These patients, when they go ventilators, it’s a very long time, and the mortality is very poor across the nation for patients once they are on the ventilator,” Thrasher said. “So it’s emotionally draining — emotionally draining for the staff, the nurses, the respiratory therapists who are in there all day with them. It’s tough and it’s taken an emotional toll on everybody.”
Statewide, the rising case counts also pose an additional concern as people headed out to beaches, pools, parties and other events to celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, potentially exposing thousands of tourists and party-goers to the virus.
“I’m not an alarmist, but I’m worried,” Saag said. “I look around and over the holiday weekend, I saw large crowds of people, and I could count the number of people wearing a mask on one hand. We could be headed for some really tough times by the first of July.”
The rise in cases over the course of this month did not stop people from going to the beach or throwing Memorial Day parties. And Google’s mobility data, which tracks cell phone locations, has shown a sustained rise in out-of-home travel since the beginning of the month.
Wearing a mask, staying away from crowds and staying at home when you can is the best way to avoid getting and, more importantly, avoid spreading the virus if you don’t know you have it.
“You can feel great today, cough and give it to me, and you may not even know you had it for two or three days, when you start to develop symptoms,” Thrasher said. “So that’s the big problem we have. We don’t know who hasn’t until after the fact.”
Masks offer a limited amount of protection for the person who wears the mask. But masks and face covering are very effective at trapping the respiratory droplets from the person wearing the mask should they cough, sneeze or spit, thereby decreasing the chance of spreading the virus to other people.
“We’re supposed to love our neighbor, and that’s one way to do it,” Thrasher said. “Someone said, ‘Well I don’t want to wear the mask because they are hot and makes me look bad.’ Well, if you don’t like wearing a mask, then you wouldn’t like a ventilator at all.”
The majority of transmission is in the 24-hour period before someone actually gets physically ill, Saag said, meaning that you’re more likely to spread the virus when you have no symptoms than once you get sick.
“How do we feel about the parents who send their child to school, knowing that they’re sick,” Saag said. “We tend to not appreciate that very much. Well, us going out in public when we may be sick and spreading this virus to other people — whether we want to take the risk for ourselves — is the same situation as sending a child to kindergarten while they’re sick. It’s the same concept. There’s a responsibility here to other people, to our friends and neighbors.”
Wearing a mask is a critical way to slow the spread of the virus without another lockdown.
“If everybody did that, maybe we wouldn’t have to stay at home so much,” Saag said. “The stay at home was a hardcore effort to avoid a catastrophe in the hospitals and elsewhere. So, if we don’t want to do that again, then at least we should be responsible enough to wear a mask in public.”
Judge refuses to dismiss Roy Moore lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen
A federal judge last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS filed by former Senate candidate Roy Moore.
Federal Judge Andrew Carter last week refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Sacha Baron Cohen, Showtime and CBS. The lawsuit was filed by former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and his wife Kayla Moore, who claim that Cohen slandered Moore as a pedophile on his now-canceled show “Who is America?”
After the judge denied Cohen’s request to dismiss the $95 million lawsuit, the case will now proceed to discovery, where the Moores announced that they intend to take the depositions of and obtain evidence from Cohen and other relevant individuals at Showtime, CBS and their related entities.
The Moores had put the defendants on notice that if they aired the offensive and defamatory interview by Cohen, who posed in disguise as an Israeli Mossad agent, that they would be sued for large damages. When the defendants did not heed the warning and aired the interview anyway, the Moores brought their lawsuit.
The case is being litigated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after it was transferred over a year ago from a federal court in Washington D.C.
“We are gratified that the Court is allowing the Moores’ case to go forward and we look forward to putting Cohen and the other defendants under oath,” said Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and a former federal prosecutor. “The alleged defamation of Chief Justice Moore was malicious and despicable and it is time that a jury of the parties’ peers allow justice to be done. Great harm has been caused to my clients, which must be addressed and remedied.”
In 2017, Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme court, was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. The Washington Post released an investigation that alleged Moore sexually abused young women in the 1970s. Moore denied the accusations.
Brooks encourages Americans to celebrate independence, foundational principles
Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, urged Americans to celebrate the Fourth of July, our independence, and the foundational principles that have made America the greatest nation in world.
“On July 4th, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers launched history’s greatest experiment,” Brooks said. “The Founders sought to answer a question no one had asked before. Can a nation prosper under a system of self-government based on freedom and liberty? The answer, YES!”
“Soviet Union & German style communism & socialism have been relegated to the dustbin of history, leaving tens of millions dead in their wake,” Brooks continued. “In contrast, America’s experiment with liberty and freedom has excelled, making us the greatest nation in history. Today, America faces its greatest internal threat in history, excepting the Civil War. Evil revisionism and dangerous doctrines are being advanced by those who wish to undermine and suppress individual freedom and liberty and replace them with government dictates and Communist China-style slavery, where the masses are forced to work for the financial benefit of elitist party members. I urge all American patriots to remember the sacrifices of our ancestors that have combined to give us the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Further, I urge patriotic Americans to fully use and exercise all our rights and powers to protect the foundational principles that have combined to make Americans who we are. Too many Americans are not taught or have forgotten that freedom and liberty are our rallying cry. It’s important to remember freedom, liberty, and our other foundational principles this Independence Day.”
“Over a million Americans have fought and died to bless us with liberty and freedom,” Brooks concluded. “I ask that we, on July 4th, remember their sacrifice and dedicate our efforts to their memory and the freedom and liberty we are so fortunate to enjoy.”
President Donald Trump spoke on Mount Rushmore Friday.
“Today we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt,” Trump said. “I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world, this monument will never be desecrated, these heroes will never be defamed, their legacy will never ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.”
“Our founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity,” the president continued. “No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America and no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation. It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence. They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said, “All men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom. Our founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights, given us by our Creator in Heaven, and that which God has given us, we will allow no one ever to take away ever.”
“1776 represented the culmination of thousands of years of Western civilization and the triumph of not only spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason,” Trump added. “And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure. Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they’re doing this, but some know what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive, but no, the American people are strong and proud and they will not allow our country and all of its values, history, and culture to be taken from them.”
“One of their political weapons is cancel culture, driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees,” Trump continued. “This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America. This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty must be stopped and it will be stopped very quickly. We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children from this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life. In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance. If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished. It’s not going to happen to us.”
“Make no mistake. This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” Trump said. “In so doing they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress. To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.”
Trump is trying to fire up his base headed into the 2020 presidential elections. Brooks represents Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.
America celebrates Independence Day
The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4.
The United States celebrates its independence from Great Britain every year on July 4. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress. This is a national and state holiday that is celebrated with fireworks, family gatherings, concerts of patriotic music and is traditionally the height of the summer holiday season.
The Declaration of Independence defined the rights of man and the relationship between government and the governed. It also stated the colonists grievances with the distant British government and explained why independence was both justified and necessary.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,” the Declaration reads.
The principal writer of the Declaration of Independence was Thomas Jefferson, who would go on to be the wartime governor of Virginia, vice president and the third president of the United States.
As brilliant as the Declaration of Independence is, independence was not won by words alone — but by the sacrifices of the men and women who sacrificed on and off the battlefields of Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill, Quebec, Charleston, Trenton, Saratoga, Valley Forge, Kings Mountain, Cowpens, Guilford Court House, Yorktown and countless more to win the nation’s independence.
That ragtag, often poorly equipped and underfed army was led by General George Washington. Washington would go on to be the head the Constitutional convention and the first president of the United States, serving two terms.
Both Washington and Jefferson are immortalized on Mount Rushmore as two of the greatest presidents.
An estimated 25,000 Americans were killed fighting the Revolutionary War. The British forces lost over 10,000 troops including many Americans who opposed independence and fought and died for the British crown. An estimated 58,000 crown Loyalists would leave this country over their loyalty to the British crown. Many of them settled in Canada.
“Today, we celebrate our Nation’s independence and the vision of our Founding Fathers revealed to the world on that fateful day, as well as the countless patriots who continue to ensure that the flames of freedom are never extinguished,” President Donald Trump said in the annual presidential July 4 message.
ADPH urges Alabamians to have “safer-at-home” July 4th celebrations
This year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.
Saturday is the Fourth of July, a day when many families hold elaborate celebrations with their friends. It is a time for friends, family, fireworks, barbecue, celebrating our nation’s independence and enjoying the summer weather.
But this year, amid a global pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health is urging Alabamians to celebrate at home to avoid catching or spreading the virus.
“Independence Day is a wonderful celebration for all Americans,” the ADPH said on their website. “As we move toward this major holiday, we want to share some recommendations and reminders for local governmental officials.”
The novel strain of the coronavirus is the largest pandemic to deeply impact this country in a century. At least 57,236 Americans were diagnosed with the virus on Thursday alone and 131,533 Americans have died, including 983 Alabamians.
A few simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of being exposed and exposing others to COVID-19. Everyone should practice good hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, avoid touching your face and wash hands often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home, and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others not in your household.
The use of cloth face coverings or masks when in public can greatly reduce the risk of transmission, particularly if the infected individual wears a mask. Many people are contagious before they begin to show symptoms — or may never develop symptoms but are still able to infect others.
The ADPH emphasized that there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns that everyone should avoid large gatherings.
This CDC video explains more about how large gatherings can spread the virus.
According to ADPH, there are no specific treatments for illnesses caused by human coronaviruses at this time.
There is ongoing medical research regarding treatment of COVID-19. Although most people will recover on their own, you can do some things to help relieve your symptoms, including taking medications to relieve pain and fever, using a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough and drinking plenty of fluids if you are mildly sick. Stay home and get plenty of rest.
Alabama is experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases in the month of June and into early July.
The state reported at least 1,758 positive cases on Friday alone, the most since the pandemic began. In the past seven days, 7,645 cases have been reported, the most of any seven-day period since the pandemic began.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases — used to smooth out daily variability and inconsistencies in case reporting — surpassed 1,000 for the first time Friday.
Since the first coronavirus case was identified in Alabama in early March, 41,362 Alabamians have tested positive, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.