Alabama Sees ‘Unprecedented’ Surge In COVID-19 Hospitalizations


UAB Medicine Facebook Page

On Tuesday afternoon, Alabama hospitals were caring for more than 1,000 in-patients with COVID-19, up from about 200 at the beginning of July.

“We are still far below the peak that we saw in December and January … although I will tell you the slope of this increase, the rate at which the hospitalization numbers are going up, is unprecedented in Alabama,” said State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris during a media call Tuesday.

“This has shot up really, really quickly, which is very concerning to us.”


Harris said the surge is linked to the more contagious delta variant, coupled with Alabama’s low vaccination rate. The state is currently last in the nation, with about 32% of residents fully vaccinated.

Harris said health officials are desperately trying to increase that number.

“We are pushing every button and pulling every lever we can, but what works for some, doesn’t work for others,” Harris said. “It’s just difficult to reach some people.”

Some local groups have offered cash incentives and other perks to encourage vaccinations. Harris said that doesn’t work for everyone.

“We’re certainly not opposed to incentives at all,” he said. “However, I don’t know of an incentive program that’s been wildly successful anywhere.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has pushed back against the idea of incentivizing vaccinations.

“There are those who believe that government should mandate the vaccine or that we should bribe people to take it,” Ivey wrote in an op-ed published Tuesday in the Washington Post.  “That’s not going to happen in my state, no matter how many times the media ask me.”

As COVID cases increase across the country, many health experts are calling for a return to universal mask-wearing, even among those who are fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance Tuesday, stating that some fully vaccinated people should wear masks indoors if they live in areas with significant viral spread. The agency also recommended all teachers, staff and students of K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

This week, Huntsville City Schools and Birmingham City Schools announced mask mandates for the beginning of the 2021 academic year.

Harris said the Alabama Department of Public Health is following CDC guidance and encourages mask-wearing, but a statewide mask requirement is unlikely.


There Were More Deaths Than Births In Alabama Last Year, A Grim First For The State

Alabama's top health official says the state has "literally shrunk." According to preliminary data, it saw 64,714 total deaths and 57,641 births in 2020.

Yes, It Is Safe To Get The COVID And Flu Vaccines At The Same Time

Alabama is gearing up for flu season. Health professionals say it's okay to get the COVID-19 vaccine in conjunction with the flu vaccine.

Hoyt Leaves Legacy In District Eight After Sixteen Years

For the last sixteen years, Birmingham City Councilor Steven Hoyt has represented areas like Ensley, West End and Five Points West. But Hoyt will leave office next month after choosing not to run for reelection. His last meeting is October 19.

Bridging The Empathy Gap Between Birmingham Schools And The Community

The interactive art exhibit “All In” put viewers in the shoes of Ramsay High School students.

JeffCo Employees Getting 3% Raises In Budget Passed Thursday

The Jefferson County Commission unanimously passed a $882,750,611 budget last week. It includes a 3% across-the-board raise for county employees.

Birmingham Applies For Grants To Beef Up Surveillance, Readies To Open Real-Time Crime Center

The city of Birmingham will apply for a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to purchase and maintain license plate readers in an effort “to improve the [Birmingham Police Department’s] response to violent crime.”

More Front Page Coverage