The state of the pandemic in Alabama

Alabama News


Emma Leigh Wright

According to the state health depatment, Alabama currently has 23 percent COVID-19 positivity rate. Lauderdaule county, in particular, has an average of 54 new cases a week.

Alex Hopper, News Editor

 Alabama is one of 42 states that experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases over the last couple of weeks. The more virulent Delta variant has curbed some plans to loosen COVID-19 restrictions heading into the fall. 

According to the state health department, the number of cases has risen by 14 percent while the number of deaths has declined by 18 percent. Alabama currently has a 23 percent COVID-19 positivity rate, which is among the highest in the nation. Lauderdale county specifically has an average of 54 new cases a week. 

Local hospital officials are navigating through the many turns in this pandemic.

“We are currently seeing a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 patients in our hospital,” North Alabama Medical Center Association Administrator Casey Willis said. “We have adequate resources and staff to handle the current number of patients.”

Director of Business and Marketing for Helen Keller Hospital, Tina Weeks, says that they are experiencing a strain on their staff. 

“[the most recent count] we have 39 patients with COVID, nine of those are on a ventilator. The numbers have been holding pretty steady in the 30s and 40s,” Weeks said. 

“Staffing continues to be a struggle,” Weeks said. “They are exhausted and mentally and emotionally drained. Whatever happens around us, our staff will tell you that our patients remain our top priority.”

State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, says the state is working to obtain and use federal resources to ease strains on the healthcare system across the state. 

State and local officials are concerned about the impact Labor Day weekend celebrations will have on the amount of cases. Earlier in the year, the state saw rises in case numbers following Memorial day and the Fourth of July. 

“Unfortunately less than 40 percent of our community is vaccinated and everything is wide open,” said Weeks. “With the recent holiday, we are worried we will see a spike.”

The ADPH, sees a decline in sight but remains that the future of this pandemic is hard to predict.

 “We’re a couple of months into this delta variant outbreak…and we keep hoping that maybe it’s going to begin to decline a little,” Harris said in a public statement. “it’s possible that we may be seeing a little bit of plateauing there, but overall I’ve just learned I’m not really good at predicting what we’re going to see.”

Another factor that Harris believes could affect the amount of cases is the opening of Alabama’s football season.

 Harris said those who enter the stadiums or gather in large groups to watch the games should be careful, even if vaccinated. 

“If you’re a vulnerable person, if you’re a senior, if you’re somebody with chronic health problems, even if you’re vaccinated, you need to be really careful about getting together with large groups of people,” Harris said. 

The Alabama Department of Public Health has decided to launch the “Kick COVID Campaign” which will offer incentives outside of select football games for vaccinated individuals. 

Willis also stresses the importance of continuing to use safeguards, like face coverings and social distancing, to limit exposure to the virus. 

“We would advise individuals to remain cautious, and to take advantage of all available means to limit or decrease their risk of serious disease from COVID-19,” Willis said. “While we are seeing a decline in the number of cases, we still see a lot of sickness related to COVID-19 and would encourage everyone to protect themselves in the best way possible.”

The UNA Covid Recovery Task Force is also continuing to monitor the positivity rate on campus. The university COVID-19 case counter reports 26 cases in the last week. 

In their latest meeting, they reconsidered the temporary mask mandate inside all university buildings. The CRTF decided to extend the mandate in light of the Delta Variant still increasing in many areas of the state. The mandate will again be reevaluated in 30 days. 

The CRTF has also created incentives for vaccination as well as a “vaccination hesitancy survey” where students can explain whether or not they plan to get vaccinated and why. 

The university will also be participating in the “Kick Covid Campaign” at football games. The Alabama Department of Public Health will be hosting a vaccine clinic on Oct. 2, at Braly Stadium. Individuals who receive their vaccine on that day, as well as 14 days prior, will receive a $75 UNA bookstore card. 

The CRTF is consistently monitoring and logging the positive cases on campus, to ensure the fall semester remains safe for all students.

The state of the COVID-19 pandemic is inconsistent and hard to predict. Local and state health officials say the future is uncertain but they believe that a decline could be seen with the practice of safeguards and vaccination.