Alabama saw more deaths than births in 2020

The state health officer said records dating back a century showed it was a first
Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - For the first time in recorded history, the state of Alabama in 2020 saw the number of deaths surpass the number of births “and actually by quite a bit,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

There were 64,714 deaths and 57,641 births in 2020.

Harris, holding his weekly update on the state’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, said data going back more than a century showed it was the first year in which the births and deaths data was flipped. He added it could happen again in 2021 if the state continues with its current trend.

“The numbers of deaths have, unfortunately, not declined at this point,” Harris stated of Alabama’s death rate, which includes at least seven pregnant women.

Alabama’s hospitalization rate has declined over the past two weeks from a surge high of 2,890 to 2,223, as of Thursday, but Harris warned some of the reduction can be attributed to the state’s ongoing daily reporting of double-digit deaths.

Nationally, Harris said 1 in 500 Americans has died as a result of the pandemic, a number he called “staggering.”

In an effort to keep those with COVID-19 from getting sick enough to need hospitalization, Alabama has been working to increase the number of locations that provide monoclonal antibody treatments. However, the federal government is now tightening control over product allocation.

On a call Monday afternoon with health leaders from every state that federal officials announced that all monoclonal antibody products would have to be ordered through states’ health departments, not through antibody providers, and that each state would be allocated shipments based on their case numbers, Harris said.

Harris added that federal authorities have explained that if a state doesn’t use at least 70% of what’s ordered, that state’s future supply shipments will be decreased.

Harris said the change has caught every state off guard and said there will probably be some patients who will need the treatment but will be unable to get it due to shortages.

Alabama’s vaccination rate continues to increase. About 1.9 million residents are now fully vaccinated, pushing the state over the halfway mark in terms of those who are eligible for the shots. That moves Alabama ahead of three other states. Additionally, Alabama has 2.3 million residents who have taken their first dose, ahead of eight states in terms of first doses.

ADPH reported 3,972 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, adding to the more than 761,000 cases confirmed since March 2020.

The pandemic has claimed a confirmed 13,048 lives.

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