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COVID cases decline slightly statewide

The number of COVID-19 cases reported in the state over the last week totaled a little more 700 per day, but that number is a lot less than in previous weeks.

“Things appear to be slowing down,” Troy Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith said. “We had a slight decline in the number of cases reported statewide over the weekend. [At TRMC] we’re testing fewer and fewer people and we’re getting lower positivity rates.”

Also, for the first time in more than a month, the state’s hospitals had open beds in Intensive Care Units. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state had a total of 67 ICU beds available on Monday.

Smith said that was good news for the state, but TRMC was still at capacity for ICU patents and had one ICU patient in emergency care that was awaiting transfer to an open ICU unit.

The entire state remains at high risk for infection except for two counties in west Alabama. Sumter County is listed as having a moderate risk for infection and Choctaw County was downgraded to a substantial. Moderate risk is defined as a 5 to 7.9 percent test positivity and substantial is defined as an 8-9.9 percent test positivity rate. High risk counties have a positivity rate of higher than 10 percent. The statewide positivity rate is at 16 percent, which was down from 24.1 percent on Aug. 12.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 772,311 — which accounts for 15.37 percent of the state’s 5 million people. However, with the Delta Variant, the number of pediatric cases is much higher than the Alpha Variant that peaked in January 2021.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, in the past seven days, an average of 23 pregnant women and 46 pediatric patients in Alabama were hospitalized each day, three pregnant women and 17 children were treated in ICUs, and an average of eight pediatric patients were on ventilators daily.

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that all pregnant individuals be vaccinated against COVID-19,” Dr. Grace Thomas, Medical Officer for Family Health Services, ADPH, said. “This guidance includes women planning to become pregnant, who have become or have been pregnant recently, and who are breastfeeding.”

Thomas said data collected over the past several months from tens of thousands of reports demonstrated the safe use of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women. She said the data also indicate that a COVID-19 infection puts a pregnant woman at an increased risk of complications, including death.

Thomas also said children are also at risk for infection from the Delta Variant and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized for children 12 years and older and fully approved for ages 16 and older.

Pediatrician and ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers said 6 to 10 percent of children who have had COVID-19 will experience long-term side effects that can last from weeks to months and are of differing severity. Symptoms include inability to concentrate, chronic headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue and heart palpitations.

The ADPH is recommending that all eligible people get one of the free COVID-19 vaccines available statewide.

“We want all eligible people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “We are especially concerned about the recent hospitalizations of pregnant women and children in our state. It is important for everyone to know that safe, highly effective and free vaccines are available statewide to protect against potential harm from COVID infection.”