‘These are our friends’: Alabama still seeing high number of COVID-19 deaths

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 12:30 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 11:46 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris opened his weekly pandemic briefing with an acknowledgment of CDC reporting that Alabama currently leads the nation for its high COVID-19 death rate.

“It certainly makes sense” Harris said, adding the Alabama Department of Public Health is working to verify the claims. “We continue to have very high numbers of deaths.”

The health officer recalled “123, 133, 205 people, 250 people, 161 people, 192 people,” the most recent week of confirmed deaths. While it takes a couple of weeks for ADPH to verify a death as COVID-related, Harris reminded “these aren’t numbers or stats. These are, these are our friends and our family and our loved ones. These are Alabamians who are dying of COVID.”

ADPH has continued to urge residents to get vaccinated, and Harris said there were positive signs people are doing that. The state is now up to 1.9 million eligible residents who are fully vaccinated and about 2.4 million who have taken at least one dose.

While case numbers across the state continue to drop, ADPH is urging Alabama residents to remain cautious. ADPH released Thursday that despite declining cases, community transmission remains high.

Harris also addressed a topic that he admits can be confusing: Booster shots. There are some groups for whom the CDC recommends a booster. There are other groups who may get one, though it’s not necessarily recommended.

Alabama’s hospitals have seen a drop of more than 1,000 inpatients as the latest COVID surge has declined. The Alabama Hospital Association has attributed deaths for some of the drop from nearly 2,890 at the start of September to 1,731 on Friday. ICUs remain full.

Health officials have been pushing COVID-positive residents to be treated with monoclonal antibodies as a way of keeping them out of hospitals in most cases. However, the federal government’s move to reallocate supplies to states has created a supply shortage in Alabama.

This past week, Alabama providers requested a total of about 19,000 doses of the emergency treatment for COVID-19. Instead of getting that many, the state will get just south of 7,000 doses.

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