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Alabama COVID-19 death toll inches toward 5,000

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Deaths linked to the coronavirus climbed above 4,600 in Alabama ahead of Christmas. Health experts fear that number will grow because of holiday travel and family gatherings. The state has added more than 4,000 new cases of the illness daily over the last week. Healthcare professionals are still urging less holiday travel to lessen a holiday spike in COVID-19 cases they say started with high school and college football games and Halloween in October and grew worse in November with the Presidential election and Thanksgiving. A new surge in mid-January is a concern after Alabamians return from Christmas visits. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington State is predicting Alabama will reach 5,000 deaths during that timeframe, and peak at 7,000 fatalities by April. Healthcare providers in Alabama point to a possible trend in California where hospitals are reportedly considering the rationing of medical care. Los Angeles County is drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many patients hospitals can accept. Healthcare managers in Alabama are concerned about an overwhelming load of new post-Christmas COVID cases, which could prompt similar action. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say Alabama’s current death toll from the coronavirus ranks twenty fourth in the nation. Health experts say wearing masks and staying away from others while the national vaccination program is beginning could help slow the spread of the virus.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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