Alabama Reports More Deaths Than Births for the First Time Ever Due to COVID Pandemic

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Throughout 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country, Alabama saw more deaths than births for the first time ever, according to health officials.

Alabama Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the state’s “preliminary numbers” recorded 57,641 births and 64,714 deaths in 2020 as the country experienced a rise in positive cases of the coronavirus.

“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,” Harris said Friday during a press conference. “Our state literally shrunk.”

RELATED: Alabama Has No More ICU Beds Amid Rising COVID Cases, Low Vaccination Rates

He continued, “That’s never happened before nor has it ever even been close before. In World War II or during the flu pandemic of 1918 or World War I, we’ve never had a time where deaths exceed births until this past year and it certainly possible that could happen this year as well if we continue in the same rate that we’re seeing now.”

Last month, Alabama health officials revealed that the state was running out of space to hold deceased bodies as COVID-19 infections soared to the highest levels of the entire pandemic. At the time, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also reissued the state of emergency that had expired in early July due to the rise in hospitalizations.

“We are experiencing a very significant patient overflow right now. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen in my career,” Ginger Henry, chief operating officer at Baptist Medical Center South, told WSFA. 

© Provided by People Mario Tama/Getty A doctor in Louisiana sees COVID-19 patients

RELATED: Alabama Health Official Says ‘There Is No Room to Put These Bodies’ as COVID Deaths Rise

According to the CDC, 41% of people in Alabama are fully vaccinated from the coronavirus and numbers continue to rise. 

Health experts have emphasized that vaccination is the best protection against hospitalization and severe illness. All three of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, prevent hospitalization or death in more than 90% of cases.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

© Getty Images Healthcare workers

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