The current State Health Order ends this week. Here’s where Alabama stands in the fight against COVID-19

Coronavirus

Gov. Kay Ivey’s latest Safer At Home Order will expire Friday, January 22 at 5 p.m., unless otherwise modified or extended. As we wait to hear from the Governor’s office about a possible extension, here’s where Alabama stands in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case Numbers and Trends:

As of Monday, Jan. 18, the state has reported 337,180 confirmed COVID-19 cases since March 11, 2020, with 52,829 of those cases in the last 14 days, and 5,099 confirmed deaths since March 11, 2020. There are also an additional 86,848 cases and 1,022 deaths that the state has listed as “probable.”

The number of new cases in the last 14 days is down from the last peak of 58,106, reported on Jan. 10.

However, deaths are starting to climb. As of Jan. 18, roughly 840 Alabamians have died from COVID-19 complications in just 17 days.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations are down slightly from Jan. 11’s peak of 3,084 inpatients, with Monday’s number at 2,798 inpatients.

Safer At Home Order

Gov. Kay Ivey’s latest Safer At Home Order will expire Friday, January 22 at 5 p.m., unless otherwise modified or extended.

The order, issued Dec. 9, changed nothing – apart from the expiration date.

However, the order issued in November removed previous capacity restrictions on retail, fitness centers, and entertainment venues statewide. It also allowed limited exceptions to social distancing rules in many businesses – including barber shops, gyms, and restaurants – as long as people are wearing masks and are separated by an impermeable barrier.

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said during November’s update that the barriers weren’t going to change CDC guidelines and definitions of close contacts.

“It makes sense that that would reduce some transmission,” Harris said of the barriers. “I don’t think anyone would claim it completely reduces transmission, for sure. As I said our definition of a close contact doesn’t change just because there’s a barrier in place, but in terms of preventing droplet spread, I think it’s similar to a mask.”

Other than the removal of restrictions on capacity and social distancing in certain cases, the last two Safer At Home Orders have kept several rules the same:

  • Masks remain required statewide for all school employees and students attending second grade classes or above, as well as everyone in public when interacting within six feet of those in another household.
  • Without barriers, many businesses and activities can remain open statewide, as long as social distancing and sanitation guidelines are followed:
    • Entertainment venues (bowling alleys, movie theaters, arcades)
    • Athletics
    • Schools
    • Day Care
    • Retail
    • Most businesses not otherwise explicitly stated in the order
  • Elective surgeries continue unless they need to be stopped in order to preserve resources to treat those with COVID-19 – as has been previously done by Huntsville Hospital and Decatur-Morgan Hospital in north Alabama.
  • Subject to local restrictions depending on the rate of COVID-19 spread, hospital patients are allowed one caregiver or visitor at a time in the hospital with them.
  • Programs at senior citizen centers remain suspended apart from meal delivery or curbside pickup.
  • Anybody at a non-work gathering must stay separated by six feet or more.
  • Beaches are open with no limit on gatherings; members of the public must stay six feet apart from those who don’t live with them.

Vaccines

The State of Alabama has begun to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers, and starting Monday, January 18, first responders plus those 75 and older as part of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

However, the vaccine rollout has been slow across the state.

Dr. Karen Landers from the Alabama Department of Public Health says the allocation given to Alabama is so small, many hospitals are still working to vaccinate their own staff.

Alabama’s population is about 4.9 million, and the state received 640,150 does in the initial allocation. Of those doses, only about 380,000 have been delivered and 148,685 have been administered.

Several health officials, including Landers, say demand across the state continues to outpace supply.

In addition to a slow rollout, the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline took more than 1.1 million calls (roughly 20% of the state’s population) during its first day in operation, overwhelming state operators and hospital switchboards.

However, the state has rolled out an online map of providers for the vaccine and Gov. Ivey has announced plans to launch an online vaccine registration site in the coming days.

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