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Alabama ranks 4th in country for new virus cases

MONTGOMERY, Ala (AP) — Alabama now ranks fourth in the country for the most new COVID-19 cases per capita, as medical officials hoped full federal approval of the Pfizer vaccine will persuade people to get vaccinated.

According to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University, Alabama ranked behind Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida,for the most new cases per capita in the past 14 days.

“The Gulf states are pretty much continuing to be on fire,” Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The FDA gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots. Alabama has one of the lowest vaccinations rates in the country, ranking slightly below Mississippi in the percentage of people fully vaccinated.

Dr. Paul Goepfert, director of the Alabama vaccine research clinic, said it will be hard to predict the impact of the approval, but added it might improve the vaccination rates by a few percentage points.

“People can no longer say with a straight face that they won’t take it because of lack of FDA approval,” Goepfert said.

State health officials on Monday urged people to get vaccinated.

“We have high levels of disease transmission in every county throughout the state. COVID-19 vaccination will help keep our communities safe and our children in school,” State Health Officer Scott Harris said in a statement Monday.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks from 2,829.14 new cases per day on Aug. 7 to 4,024.00 new cases per day on Aug. 21.

Meanwhile, 2,762 Alabamians are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Alabama Hospital Association on Monday said that 84% of adults hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state are unvaccinated.

Intensive care units, particularly in some areas of the state, are being stressed by the wave of mostly unvaccinated patients. A little more than half of all intensive care unit beds in the state are filled with someone with COVID-19.

Hospital officials as Springhill Medical Center in Mobile last week told WKRG that out of 102 hospitalized patients, seven were vaccinated.

“Between breaths, they beg me for the vaccine. They beg me to save them. I just have to look at them and say, ‘It’s too late right now. We can’t right now, but you keep fighting,'” nurse manager Abby Wilson told the station.

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