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Nearly 300 Alabamians have died of COVID-19 in the first weeks of August

An illustration of the coronavirus. (STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Public Health over the weekend confirmed five additional deaths from COVID-19, raising the state’s death toll to 1,830. At least 299 of the deaths have been reported in the first half of August.

The state of Alabama averaged 21 COVID-19 deaths per day through the first two weeks of August. In July, 605 Alabamians died — an average of 20 deaths per day. July was by far the deadliest month of the pandemic. Deaths were up substantially from June, when 296 deaths were confirmed — an average of 10 deaths per day.

The state headed into summer with 630 Alabamians having died from COVID-19 on May 31. That number has since increased 1,830. This summer has seen 1,200 Alabamians die from COVID-19.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported another 700 confirmed cases on Friday and 1,883 over the weekend, raising the state’s total confirmed coronavirus cases to 104,079. At least 18,801 of those cases have been reported in August alone. The state of Alabama is averaging 1,175 new cases per day in August.

July was the worst month yet for coronavirus cases with 47,742 new cases. This was more than the previous four months of the pandemic combined. The state averaged 1,540 new cases per day in July. Thus far August’s 1,208 cases per day is a decline of 21.6 percent from the month before. This is reflected in declines in the 14- and seven-day rolling averages.

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Alabama’s high rate of positive tests remains a cause for concern. So far in August, ADPH has reported 164,229 new tests. Of those, 18,801 were positive. That is a positivity rate of more than 11 percent.

Public health experts warn that anything over five percent is an indicator that the infection rate in the population is so high that many of the infected are going undiagnosed. Because of this, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio is fining any Alabamians caught visiting their town without first quarantining for 14 days.

The state of Alabama is averaging 10,264 tests per day. In July the state gave 271,698 coronavirus tests for an average of 8,764 tests per day. This is a 16.6 percent increase from July. The percent positivity is down from an average 17.6 percent during the month of July.

When Alabama reopened its economy, many Alabamians chose to ignore the governor’s statewide “safer-at-home” order and carried on with their activities without wearing a mask or practicing social distancing. That mistake has proven costly.

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On July 15, Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris modified the “safer-at-home” order to mandate the wearing of masks or cloth face coverings in public and whenever you might be within six feet of another person not from your household. The school systems that reopened this week with in-person classes are doing so with mask requirements.

The public health emergency runs through the end of August, but will likely be renewed for September unless there is marked improvement in the number of cases in the second half of the month.

Doctors and hospitals are doing a better job at saving COVID-19 patients or the death tolls would be even higher; however, the uptick in deaths in Alabama is due in large part to the sheer number of people who were infected this summer.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board has issued an order to bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol after 11 p.m. Some public health experts have advised that all bars be closed to help slow the spread of the virus.

The novel strain of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, remains a clear and present danger to every Alabamian. The public is advised to please stay in your homes as much as possible. If you have to go out, wear a mask or cloth face covering. Use social distancing.

Don’t hug or shake hands with anyone outside of your household. Stay at least six feet apart from persons in other households and wash your hands frequently.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already killed 171,015 Americans. Almost 5.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Over 2.4 million of the known cases are thought to be active. Globally 760,269 people have perished from COVID-19.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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