2021 COVID-19 deaths exceed 2020 numbers in Alabama with 3 months left

Coronavirus

An employee of a local funeral home covers the body of a COVID-19 patient patient who died as he prepares to take it away from a loading dock, at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La. COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a select group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard shows that the number of deaths in 2021 from the coronavirus in the state of Alabama exceeds the number of deaths caused by the virus recorded in the state the previous year.

The dashboard reports that 7,188 deaths from COVID-19 occurred in the state during 2020. So far in 2021, the dashboard shows 7,283 deaths, bringing the total to 14,471.

In a press release sent Monday, ADPH explains that reporting deaths can be a complicated process, so there may be slight differences in the number of deaths reported by ADPH and other organizations. For example, the Center for Disease Control reports 14,118 total deaths from COVID-19 in Alabama.

These discrepancies do not necessarily reflect inaccuracies, ADPH says. Data from the National Center for Health Statistic tend to track 1-2 weeks behind other data. It takes extra time to enter COVID-19 deaths into the NCHS system, and many states vary when it comes to how quickly they report data to the NCHS. Some states report deaths in as soon as 10 days while others take much longer.

ADPH also says that there is a difference between what is considered a “probable” or “confirmed” death from COVID-19. A death from COVID-19 is considered “confirmed” if there is both a death certificate and confirmed laboratory evidence for SARS-CoV-2. A “probable” death occurs when there is a death certificate but not any confirming laboratory evidence.

ADPH’s dashboard includes both kinds of deaths in their total number; however, they share in the press release that Alabama has a total of 3,146 probable COVID-19 deaths reported, meaning there have been 11,325 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Alabama over the course of the pandemic.

“The Alabama Department of Public Health considers any deaths to be a significant loss to family, loved ones and friends,” Dr. Karen Landers, ADPH, said. “We work to provide information that has been vetted by our team in terms of accuracy related to COVID-19 deaths.”

The press release also says that a spike in hospitalizations and cases, like the surge the country has seen over the past month, tends to result in a total number of deaths. Thus, they say, it is vital to get vaccinated now.

“Typically, when we see a spike in cases and hospitalizations, a spike in total number of deaths on the dashboard is soon to follow. That is why it is so important to get vaccinated now.”

Despite a large number of doctors, researchers and medical professionals urging the vaccine and masking, the state still boasts one of the lowest percentages of vaccinations and has yet to implement any mask or vaccine mandates. Gov. Kay Ivey recently reiterated her commitment to opposing any vaccine mandates but said earlier in the year it was time to “start blaming the unvaccinated.”

As of Oct. 1, Alabama leads the country in COVID-19 deaths, and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris held a press conference that day.

“There is no reason that these people should have had to die,” Harris said. “Vaccination prevents most hospitalizations and most deaths. It’s a tragedy that we have to sit here every week and report these numbers to you.”

To watch the full press conference, click here. To find a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

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