BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s safe to say we could never have imagined what the year would be like when we rang in 2020 one year ago. Much of that is because of the spread of the coronavirus. We’re taking at look back at the turmoil the virus has caused in Alabama and what the future holds.
On March 13th, COVID-19 arrived in Alabama. The state’s first reported case happening in Montgomery County.
“This is a very fast-moving situation, we are not surprised to have additional cases and we have been expecting this for some time,” said Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Governor Kay Ivey then declared a state of emergency asking people to take the situation seriously. The first COVID-19 death was confirmed on March 25th. By April, cases reached 1,000 and Governor Ivey then ordered all Alabamians to stay at home unless they were essential employees or needed things like groceries or medicine.
“We’ve got to take this order deadly serious. Otherwise, it is a fact that more people will die,” Ivey said.
Later that month, Ivey amended the health orders to a safer at home order which reopened some businesses, but cases were still going up. By May, Alabama saw 10,000 cases.
The height of the virus at the time came in July and August with cases surging over the 100,000 mark. Hospitalizations and deaths also rising as well. In the Fall, a steady increase which once again put a strain on hospitals.
Throughout this pandemic, doctors have pleaded with the community to take personal responsibility.
“Let’s make sure we avoid large crowds. We stay away from big crowds of people especially indoors. Stay away from any group of people not wearing a mask and of course wear a mask yourself,” said Dr. Michael Saag with UAB’s Infectious Diseases Division.
In November, the state was closing in to over 200,000 COVID-19 cases. Since then Alabama has been breaking records in daily cases and hospitalizations especially after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Christmas surge and possibly New Year’s could double COVID patients at UAB. It’s not a crisis situation yet but it could come to that over the next two weeks says Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo.
“We have tried to be cautious in our language and not to be scary or sensationalistic, but the reality is it’s scary enough right now. We are doing ok but it’s a possibility we won’t be okay in a couple of weeks,” Dr. Marrazzo said.
We can’t forget the human toll. Many families were not able to be with their loved ones when they passed away. Heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe that for those families.