Alabama adds nearly 3,400 COVID cases on Tuesday, as state reports holiday backlog

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 3,376 new coronavirus cases and 60 virus deaths on Tuesday, but some of those cases and deaths are old.

“Case counts and deaths reported on today’s update are high,” a notice posted to the ADPH coronavirus dashboard Tuesday reads. “Today’s increase represents a delay in reporting to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) due to the holiday weekend.”

The new number brings the state’s 7-day average for new reported cases to 2,291 – just one daily case short of the all-time record set on Thanksgiving Day.

[Can’t see the chart? Click here.]

If the backlog mostly includes cases from over the weekend, it shouldn’t affect the 7-day average for the state much. If anything, it likely corrects what was an artificially low running average. The state added just 917 cases on Nov. 27, well below the current average and the first time Alabama had added fewer than 1,000 new cases in a day in nearly a month.

Tuesday’s number represents the second highest case total ever added in a day – an earlier backlog in October saw 3,852 cases enter the system at once. Backlogs like this have been frequent occurrences in Alabama since the pandemic began. According to ADPH, Tuesday’s particular batch of old numbers came from labs who didn’t report positive tests or deaths over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

The state’s current positivity rate, based on the 7-day average for new cases and the 7-day average for new tests, is the highest it’s been in months, at nearly 33 percent. It’s unclear how the backlogged data affects that number, but if negative tests from the same timeframe were reported in the backlog then the positivity rate shouldn’t be affected.

The 60 deaths reported Tuesday tie the second-highest daily total since Nov. 19. That number also includes old data – the state had only reported six new deaths in the past four days, and none on Friday or Saturday. Date-of-death data show Tuesday’s numbers include deaths from as far back as July 27.

Most of the reported deaths Tuesday came from Baldwin County, on the coast – 39 deaths were reported there Tuesday, bringing its total to 137.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County, the most populous county in the state, added a record number of new cases Tuesday, though it’s unclear how many were old. The state reported 462 new cases in Jefferson on Tuesday, bringing its total to 33,527 cases since the pandemic began. On Nov. 27, the day where the backlogged cases appear to have primarily come from, Jefferson added just 135 cases – significantly lower than its current 7-day average of 355 new cases per day.

You can see how many new cases and deaths each Alabama county added in the table below.

[Can’t see the table? Click here.]

Do you have an idea for a data story about Alabama? Email Ramsey Archibald at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @RamseyArchibald. Read more Alabama data stories here.

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