The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 3,531 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the third consecutive day at least 3,000 cases have been added in a 24-hour period. Before this week, that had only happened once.
The high numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday included some backlogged cases from the Thanksgiving holiday, but Thursday’s total doesn’t seem to include older test results. If there are no old cases, Thursday’s total would be the highest the state has ever seen in a day without a backlog.
And the state is still breaking records for current virus hospitalizations – it reported more than 1,800 current virus inpatients for the first time ever on Wednesday. And Alabama’s 7-day positivity rate remains one of the highest in the nation.
Thursday’s high case count does come with more testing, as well. The state reported more than 12,400 tests Thursday, the highest daily total since Nov. 19. But nearly 35 percent of tests over the last seven days have come back positive here, the sixth highest rate in the nation. In Idaho, the state with the highest positivity rate, nearly half of all tests given are coming back positive.
ADPH also reported 65 deaths on Thursday – the third consecutive day with at least 60 deaths entering the system. Alabama’s virus numbers look much worse than they did just three days ago – the state has added nearly 11,000 cases and 200 deaths to its totals in that time. Since March, Alabama has now reported more than 260,000 virus cases and nearly 3,800 virus deaths.
Boosted by both high numbers and backlogged data, Alabama’s 7-day average for new cases has never been higher. It currently stands at 2,629 – nearly 130 cases higher than the previous record set on Wednesday, and more than 700 daily cases higher than the peaks the state experienced in July.
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That number is partially inflated due to backlogs after the long holiday weekend, but even without them would still be higher than ever. Wednesday’s backlog added just 700 cases, according to ADPH, so the state would still have added over 3,000 cases in what would have been a first in days without old data.
But looking at cases alone isn’t enough to gauge Alabama’s current situation, especially with the problem of old data entering the system.
In some counties the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is much higher than 35 percent.
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Nine of Alabama’s 67 counties currently have 7-day positivity rates higher than 50 percent, most of them in the northern half of the state. None is higher than Fayette County, which is west of Birmingham.
The 7-day positivity rate in Fayette County is nearly 64 percent. Only around 24 tests per day were reported in Fayette in the last 7-days, but 15 per day came back positive in that time. And that number doesn’t appear to be skewed by a large influx of older cases – the 7-day average there has remained relatively flat for the past few weeks.
Who’s adding the most cases?
Jefferson County, the most populous county in the state, continues to add lots of new virus cases. It added 502 cases Thursday, the most in the state. In just the first three days of December, nearly 1,700 cases have been reported in Jefferson County alone. It’s current 7-day average of 415 cases per day is the highest any county in Alabama has seen since the start of the pandemic.
Madison County, home of Huntsville, is also adding a lot of cases. 290 new virus cases were reported there on Thursday, second most in Alabama. The 7-day average there is around 179 daily cases, which is also second highest in the state.
17 of the 65 new deaths reported on Thursday were in Tuscaloosa County – no other county added more than five. Most of the deaths reported Thursday occurred recently, according to date-of-death data, but some were reported from as far back as April.
You can see how many new cases and deaths each county added in the table below:
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