There were more deaths than births in Alabama last year, a first since the state started keeping records and officials said it's directly tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, 64,714 Alabamians died and only 57,641 were born, the state announced Friday
“Our state literally shrunk in 2020,” state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said at a Covid briefing. He said it’s the first time in the state’s recorded history that this has happened — saying it’s never “been close” before, not even during World War II or the 1918 flu pandemic.
“It's certainly possible that can happen this year as well, if we continue at the same rate that we are seeing now,” he said. That is because, in part, while Covid-19 hospitalizations are declining in the state, more people who are hospitalized are dying, he said.
Alabama's seven-day average of new cases peaked Sept. 1 at an average of 5,538 new cases per day.
Its seven-day average of reported deaths was at 42 on Sept. 1, but that number has nearly doubled. As of Sunday, the figure stood at an average 76 deaths per day.
In the last two weeks, 795 people died in the state, the third-highest rate of reported Covid deaths in that time frame among states.
The state reported 192 deaths Sept. 17; the last time it reported that many was in February.
February was also the last time the state's seven-day average of reported deaths was more than 70. (The seven-day average is used to take a broader look at trends that can be obscured by single-day spikes and weekends, when many health departments take a break from reporting).
Since the start of the pandemic, Alabama has reported 13,210 Covid-related deaths. Adjusted for population, it has the fifth-highest rate of Covid deaths in the country.
According to an NBC News tally, 41.3 percent of the state's population is vaccinated, which totals just over 2 million people.
Alabama's death tally comes at a moment where Covid has now killed about the same number of people in the United States as the 1918 flu pandemic — around 675,000.