After reaching a post-winter surge low of 166 COVID-19 hospitalizations on June 20, the number of Alabamians being treated for coronavirus in hospitals hit 213 on Independence Day.
The uptick in hospitalizations comes as the number of counties deemed by the Alabama Department of Public Health to be a “very high risk” for the spread of COVID-19 on Thursday jumped to 21, up from six counties the week before.
Those counties are Baldwin, Butler, Coffee, Houston, Monroe, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Henry, Jefferson, Limestone, Lauderdale, Macon, Madison, Montgomery, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega and Tuscaloosa.
ADPH uses the seven-day average of new daily cases to categorize counties as either low risk, moderate risk, high risk or very high risk. In addition to the 21 counties deemed as very high risk, three counties — Jackson, Marshall and Wilcox — are high-risk counties.
The increase in hospitalizations is nowhere near Alabama’s peak of 3,070 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Jan. 12, but the increase is concerning nonetheless because of the state’s abysmal vaccination rate and public health experts’ warnings about the more contagious delta variant that’s quickly becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. and many other countries.
Alabama has the second-lowest percentage of vaccinated residents in the nation, at 32 percent, according to The New York Times.
There’s a partisan divide when it comes to vaccinations as well, according to results of a poll released Sunday and conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News, which found that 86 percent of Democrats had received at least one dose while just 45 percent of Republicans had.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor, predicts regional surges in new cases due to the delta variant.
“We’re going to see … almost two types of America,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “You know, those regions of America which are highly vaccinated and we have a low level of dynamics of infection. And in some places, some states, some cities, some areas, where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high – that’s where you’re going to see the spikes.”
Fauci said that of the nearly 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in June in the U.S., approximately 99.2 percent, were among the unvaccinated.
Despite warnings about the delta variant from Fauci and other public health experts, including UAB’s Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, many believe the warnings are overblown. According to the poll released Sunday, 57 percent of Republicans polled said the delta variant risk is exaggerated, while 12 percent of Democrats said as much.