Alabama, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, saw more deaths than births in 2020, marking the first time that the state’s population has shrunk.
During a recent press briefing, per regional Birmingham outlet WBRC, Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris first made special mention of the recently reported nationwide stats showing that 1 in 500 Americans have died from COVID-19. Lamenting that figure as “staggering,” Harris then broke down recent Alabama-focused numbers, including a comparison between the total number of deaths and births in 2020.
“Here in Alabama, we continue to see deaths at a really high rate, unfortunately,” he said Friday. “We released some numbers earlier this week that I wanted to cover with you again today. This past year, 2020, is going to be the first year that we know of in the history of our state where we actually had more deaths than births. Our state literally shrunk in 2020, based on the numbers that we have managed to put together, and actually by quite a bit.”
Harris said the “preliminary number” for deaths in the state in 2020 was 64,714. Meanwhile, the state recorded 57,641 births. Those numbers will continue to be updated, Harris said, but he stressed the importance of what the comparison suggested about the historically abysmal situation facing Alabama at the moment.
“That’s never happened before nor has it ever been close before. … We’ve never had a time where deaths exceeded births until this past year,” Harris said. “It’s certainly possible that could happen this year, as well, if we continue at the same rate that we’re seeing now.”
Complex has reached out to a rep for the Alabama Department of Public Health and will update this post accordingly. In a previous statement, Harris urged Alabamians to help “make a difference” by getting vaccinated. The state, he said, “is in crisis” amid increasing cases and hospitalizations.
“Many COVID-19 cases we see are preventable with the safe, highly effective, and free vaccines we have available,” he said, adding that too many in the state have instead been relying on “misinformation or outlandish disinformation.”
Alabama’s statewide vaccination rate has routinely ranked near (or often at) the bottom. At the time of this writing, the state was reporting that around 41 percent of its total population was now fully vaccinated. This falls well below the already-not-very-comforting nationwide vaccination rate of around 55 percent.
The attitude of the region’s white Republican voting block, infamously, was put on full display during a recent visit from ex-POTUS Donald Trump. When telling a crowd at a rally in the predominantly white city of Cullman that he was vaccinated and would recommend it for others, the former Apprentice host was met with boos.
Alabamian or not, get vaccinated.