In a press conference Thursday, Jan. 21, Gov. Kay Ivey said she knows folks had hoped to put the coronavirus pandemic behind them in 2021, but holiday celebrations brought on the biggest spike the state has seen yet.
Just the week before, she said, COVID-19-related hospitalizations were higher than ever with 1,561 ICU beds occupied statewide. Ivey said that means there were only 34 ICU beds available in the entire state.
The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases remains high at 2,666 per day, she said, but it’s dipped a bit since earlier this month.
Because of those numbers, Ivey said she would extend the mask mandate and the rest of her “Safer at Home” order another six weeks with no changes.
In Alabama, as of Jan. 25, the state has recorded 443,009 COVID-19 cases, 40,815 hospitalizations and 6,662 deaths, according to numbers provided by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
As of Monday, Jan. 25, Mobile County has had a total of 31,617 confirmed COVID-19 cases. From Jan. 18 to Jan. 25, Mobile county saw an increase of 1,234 cases, according to the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD). Of the 574 deaths from COVID-19, 438 or 76 percent were from patients 65 or older. From Jan. 17 to Jan. 23, there were 202 new cases in Mobile County schools, according to MCHD. That represents a 14 percent decrease over the previous week. Sixty-five schools had at least one new case of the virus, which represents a 17 percent decrease from the previous week.
On the vaccine front, Ivey said the state is still administering shots to individuals 75 years of age or older, health care workers and first responders, but demand is still outflanking supply.
“We simply do not have enough vaccines for everyone who wants one,” she said. “No state does.”
Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris asked those who are not eligible for the vaccine to refrain from calling the appointment hotline.
On the same day, MCHD announced it was changing the way it handles vaccine distribution for those currently eligible. In a statement released shortly after Ivey’s press conference, MCHD confirmed it would no longer require an appointment for those seeking a vaccine at its clinic at the Mobile Alabama Cruise Terminal. However, MCHD also announced it doesn’t currently have any more first doses of the vaccine.
All future vaccine events will be held on a first-come, first-served basis, MCHD announced.
Harris said he shares the frustration of Alabamians who are not aware of where to get the vaccine or haven’t been able to get vaccinated. He assured the public those who want the vaccine would be able to get it through the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Harris also said more than 500 locations in the state have become authorized to administer the vaccine, but only about half currently have vaccines to distribute. He announced a new partnership with Walmart, which would allow the megastore’s pharmacies to distribute the vaccine. Harris also said other chain pharmacies would be included through a federal program later on.
Those currently eligible for the vaccine include 326,000 health care workers, nursing home residents, law enforcement officers and firefighters. Another 350,000 individuals 75 years of age or older are also eligible, according to ADPH.
So far, 255,291 doses of the vaccine have been administered and the state received 50,000 to 60,000 first doses per week.