Alabama virus deaths hit 3,000 as cases rise, hospitals fill
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 3,000 on Wednesday as both cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continued rising and state officials weighed whether to extend a mandatory mask order.
The Department of Public Health reported 3,006 people had died since the start of the crisis, which was 17 more than a day earlier. Nearly 198,000 people have tested positive in the state.
The 1,848 new cases reported was the most in a single day since early August, according to Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. More than 1,020 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 45% since late September.
With a state health order requiring face masks in public places set to expire on Sunday, Williamson said the group supports an extension of the requirement. So does Dr. Mike Saag, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who both survived COVID-19 and treats patients with the illness.
“It is needed now more than ever with the explosion of cases across the nation over the last 30 days,” Saag said.
Gov. Kay Ivey’s office, which has announced previous extensions of the order, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Alabama’s death count is the 23rd highest in the nation, and the state is 22nd highest in the per capita death rate at nearly 62 for every 100,000 people, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The rolling average number of daily new cases has jumped by about 308, an increase of 29.4%, over the last two weeks.
While the virus causes only mild to moderate symptoms for most people, it is particularly dangerous for the elderly and people with other, serious health problems.
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