Alabama reported more coronavirus cases on Friday than any other single day since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health, which put the rising cases to social gatherings of more than 10 people, including parties, sporting events and church functions.
The state reported 2,980 cases on Friday. While ADPH on Oct. 23 reported 3,852 cases, 1,287 of those were older positive antigen tests conducted in June through October and submitted by a facility in Mobile. Excluding that October “data dump,” Friday showed the largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since March.
The state’s seven-day average of daily cases was 1,843 on Friday, as high as it’s been since July 25, during the peak of Alabama’s surge, and 86 percent higher than a month ago.
Jefferson County saw a record 451 cases added on Friday, and Shelby County also saw a record-high 157 cases.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) in a statement Friday said a large number of the new cases are from those gatherings of more than 10 “including attendance at such events as fall or Halloween parties, sporting events, work related meetings, and church sponsored activities.”
“Other contributors to these numbers are cases in the preschool, school, and college age population, as well as some cases in healthcare workers, congregate settings, long term care, and travel,” the statement reads.
Alabama’s record-breaking new cases Friday come as hospitalizations and deaths in the state continue to rise, and the virus surges across the country, which saw another record of more than 153,000 new cases on Thursday. The U.S. has broken records for new daily cases in seven of the last nine days.
There were 1,233 hospitalizations of coronavirus patients statewide on Thursday, the highest number since Aug. 18, and a 25 percent increase from two weeks ago. Huntsville Hospital was caring for 194 coronavirus patients on Thursday, a number not seen since Aug. 5.
The record in new cases Friday can’t be explained because of more testing. ADPH didn’t publish testing data on Thursday, so Friday’s daily total of 19,285 diagnostic tests included both day’s totals. Alabama’s 14-day average for daily tests Friday was 7,513. That’s just 10 percent more than were performed a month ago.
The positivity rate on Friday was 21.9 percent, according to APR‘s tracking of new cases and reported tests over the past two weeks. APR, along with many other COVID-19 tracking projects, calculate the state’s positivity rate by dividing the seven- and 14-day averages of case increases by the seven- and 14-day averages of test increases.
The Alabama Department of Public Health calculates the positivity rate differently, instead dividing the number of daily cases by the number of individuals who have been tested, rather than the total number of tests done, as some people may have more than one test performed.
There are no federal standards on how states are to report COVID-19 testing data, and a myriad of state health departments calculate positivity rates differently.
ADPH’s own calculations show Alabama’s percent positivity on Nov. 7, the last day for which the department provided calculations, at 10 percent, double what public health experts say it should be or cases are going undetected.
ADPH in the statement Friday said the public should assess risks for exposure to COVID-19 and “be aware that situations where there are increases in crowds, opportunity for close contact, and attendance in closed in spaces provide more opportunities for spread of this virus.”
“ADPH urges all Alabamians to follow social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and the use of cloth face coverings to reduce transmission of COVID-19,” the department said.