For the first time in Alabama’s known history, the state had more deaths than births in 2020 — a grim milestone that underscores the pandemic’s calamitous toll.
“Our state literally shrunk in 2020,” Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer, said at a news conference on Friday. There were 64,714 total deaths in the state last year, compared to 57,641 births, Dr. Harris said.
Such a gap had never been recorded, not even during World War I, World War II and the flu pandemic of 1918, Dr. Harris said. Going back to the earliest available records, in 1900, “We’ve never had a time when deaths exceeded births,” he said.
Nationally, the birthrate declined for the sixth straight year in 2020, and some experts say the pandemic may be accelerating that trend. A study from the University of New Hampshire found that half of the 50 U.S. states had more deaths than births in 2020, compared with only five states with more deaths than births in 2019.
In Alabama last year, 7,182 deaths were officially attributed to Covid, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
On Wednesday, in a town hall discussion with Al.com, Alabama’s largest digital news site, Dr. Harris dismissed arguments that Covid deaths were being misrepresented.
“We get skeptical people who go, ‘Oh well, those were just older people who were going to die anyway, and you’re just attributing their deaths to Covid,’” he said. “That is not the case.”
Alabama has recently averaged about 60 deaths a day, according to a New York Times database, and only 41 percent of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated.
A look at the polling in California and nationally reveals that Republicans would be wise to come up with a better message on the coronavirus, or else they could be throwing away a clear pathway to a strong 2022 midterm election.
The number one issue for California voters in last week's recall was the coronavirus. Nearly a third (32%) of the electorate said it was the top issue in the exit poll, which was the runaway for most important. The "no" side on the recall -- against the removal of Newsom -- won among these voters by a 81% to 19% margin.
The coronavirus being the number one issue matches what we've seen nationally as well. CNN's last poll conducted by SSRS showed that 36% of Americans said the coronavirus was the most important issue facing the country. The next closest was the economy at a mere 20%.
When we look at the generic congressional ballot, Democrats lead among voters who said the coronavirus was the top issue by a 63% to 27% margin. Among all other voters, they trail by a 52% to 36% margin.