For the first time in Alabama’s known history, the state recorded more deaths than births in 2020 – a grim milestone that underscores the pandemic’s calamitous toll.
“Our state has literally shrunk in 2020,” Alabama public health official Dr. Scott Harris said at a news conference. press conference Friday. There were 64,714 total deaths in the state last year, up from 57,641 births, Dr Harris said.
Such a gap had never been recorded, not even during WWI, WWII and the 1918 influenza pandemic, Dr Harris said. Going back to the earliest records available, in 1900, “we never had a time when deaths exceeded births,” he said.
Nationally, the birth rate has fallen for the sixth year in a row in 2020, and some experts say the pandemic could accelerate this trend. A study of the University of New Hampshire found that half of the 50 U.S. states recorded more deaths than births in 2020, compared with just five states that recorded more deaths than births in 2019.
In Alabama last year, 7,182 deaths were officially attributed to Covid, according to the data from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Wednesday, in a discussion in town hall with Al.com, Alabama’s largest digital news site, Dr Harris dismissed arguments that Covid deaths were distorted.
“We have skeptical people who say, ‘Well, these were just old people who were going to die anyway, and you just attribute their deaths to Covid,’” he said. “This is not the case.”
Alabama recently averaged about 60 deaths per day, according to a New York Times database, and only 41 percent of the state’s eligible population is fully immunized.
Alabama’s full vaccination rate is on par with Idaho’s, tied as the third-lowest rate in the country. The two lowest ranked are Wyoming and West Virginia.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey urged residents of his state to get vaccinated against Covid, but like many other republicansshe objected when President Biden recently announced vaccination warrants, calling them “Scandalous” and “exaggerated”.