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‘Substantial’ daily death rate cited for Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalization decline

(Adam Mintzer)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:53 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate continues to decline after a two-month surge in cases. But health officials have warned the plateau and fall could be temporary as they continue to watch for new infections attributable to Labor Day and college football game gatherings.

On Tuesday, the state saw a drop of nearly 75 hospitalizations related to the coronavirus, leaving health care providers to treat 2,401 for the disease. The state is now treating the same number of patients from one month ago when there were 2,402 COVID-19 inpatients on Aug. 14.

That Aug. 14 rate came as the state’s surge continued, topping out at just under 2,900 cases at the start of September. For reference, there were just 179 COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide at the beginning of the surge on July 3.

Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said Monday that he’s “hopeful but not confident yet that things are beginning to improve,” and noted that “one of the reasons our hospitalization numbers appear to be stable to declining is because we’ve had a pretty substantial daily death count. We’re reporting more than 40 deaths a day now for almost three weeks.”

Nationally, while the number of COVID-19 cases are slowly decreasing, the number of deaths continues to rise. Alabama has reported 557 COVID-19 deaths in the last 10 days.

Alabama had led the nation with one of the highest testing positivity percentage rates when, at one point during the surge, nearly 25% of COVID-19 tests came back positive. That number has also declined, though it remains high. The Alabama Department of Public Health’s moving seven-day percentage now shows a 19.3% positive rate.

ADPH says that of the 90,000 tests reported in the last seven days, more than 17,000, or nearly 1 in 5, had the virus. About 4,000 of those newly confirmed cases were reported in the last day.

The number of hospitalized pediatric COVID-19 patients remains relatively unchanged in recent weeks with around 50 being hospitalized at any given time. According to the hospital association, there are currently 46 children being treated, 21 of whom are in ICUs. Seven are on ventilators.

There are also 25 pregnant women in the state hospitalized because of the virus, two of whom are in the ICU.

Data from ADPH and the hospital association continues to show the vast majority of the 2,355 adults being treated for COVID-19 - about 84% - are unvaccinated. Of those, 761 are in the ICU and 73%, or 558 patients are on ventilators.

The state’s ICU bed deficit continues to be a major concern for health care professionals. It’s demand surpassed supply on Aug. 17 and has yet to return to parity. The hospital association reports that, as of Tuesday, there were 1,549 designated ICU beds and 1,592 ICU patients, a deficit of 43 beds.

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