Alabama’s seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases was as high as it’s been since the start of the pandemic, and on Monday that average again broke the previous record.
Over the last seven days, Alabama has reported a record-breaking 14,375 cases, a dire number that comes as much of the nation is seeing surges in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Alabama added 1,410 cases on Monday, bringing the average of daily cases over the last week to 2,054. The last time the average was this high was July 19, when the state was in the thick of the last peak.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide hit 1,262 on Monday, the highest number since Aug. 18 and a continuation of increasing hospitalizations over the last several weeks. UAB Hospital on Monday was caring for 84 coronavirus inpatients, the highest number the hospital has seen since Aug. 17.
“[In] August — when we were seeing that post-July 4 peak — we had 1,500 people hospitalized, and we were getting very, very anxious at that point,” said UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the hospital’s infectious disease, speaking last week. “So I am quite concerned that we could be heading in that direction.”
The percentage of tests that were positive over the last week, known as the positivity rate, was 24 percent on Monday, according to APR’s tracking of seven-day averages of case and test increases. Many other COVID-19 tracking projects calculate the state’s percent positivity by dividing the seven- and 14-day averages of daily case increases by the seven- and 14-day averages of daily 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.
Even so, ADPH’s own calculations show Alabama’s positivity rate is double where public health experts say it needs to be, or else cases are going undetected. According to ADPH’s calculations, the percent positivity on Nov. 7 was 10 percent, up from 7.7 percent on Oct. 10.
It takes time for the Alabama Department of Public Health to verify whether a person died from COVID-19, and deaths are a lagging indicator of the spread of the disease, coming weeks or even many months after infection, but Alabama’s seven- and 14-day average of newly reported deaths inched over 20 per day for the first time since July.
On Monday, the state was averaging 24 reported deaths per day reported over the week. All told, 3,249 Alabamians have died from the disease.
Health experts in Alabama and across the country are urging people to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to avoid more spread of the virus.
“I’ve heard of clusters of cases now where the attack rate is astonishing in people who have been in the same room, particularly restaurants, gyms and bars and churches,” Marrazzo said last week, adding Thanksgiving poses a real risk because those who may not have symptoms can still carry the virus to their family gatherings.
As cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to increase, numerous local school systems across the state have begun transitioning to remote learning. A large number of COVID-19 cases were reported in school systems across the state last week. State education officials told APR on Monday that despite rumors to the contrary, there are no plans for a statewide move to remote learning after Thanksgiving.