Covid-19 Rebounds in Alabama After Crimson Tide Street Party

Covid-19 cases are rebounding slightly in Alabama two weeks after the Crimson Tide football team won the national college championship and a wild party ensued in the streets of Tuscaloosa.

The state’s seven-day average of virus cases climbed 4% to 2,776 in the past week, the biggest increase in the U.S., according to Covid Tracking Project data. Iowa is the only other state that has seen any increase in the period, as cases and hospitalizations drop across the country.

The rebound in Tuscaloosa, home of the University of Alabama, is among a group of local outbreaks that buck the national trend, including the U.S.-Mexico border area around Laredo, Texas.

The Tuscaloosa jump has been particularly striking since the game -- and the virus’ two-week incubation period, according to data from USAFacts, a nonprofit aggregator of government statistics that’s used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Covid-19 Rebounds in Alabama After Crimson Tide Street Party

After the university’s football team beat Ohio State 52-24 on Jan. 11, fans streamed out of bars and homes, and a raucous and often maskless party raged in the area called the Strip.

Proving a definite connection to Alabama’s case increase is extremely difficult. Covid-19 has become so widespread in the U.S. that it’s hard to nail down discrete drivers of outbreaks, and there are limited contact-tracing capabilities to help.

The data is a reminder of the delicate moment. Vaccines are starting to reach the most vulnerable, and Americans are eager to return to normal life after almost a year of the pandemic. Yet faster-spreading variants of the virus and riskier behavior may undo the fragile gains made in recent weeks. At this point, only 1.2% of Americans have received the required two doses of vaccine, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Still, sporting events continue. The National Football League will host Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, on Feb. 7, limiting stadium capacity to 22,000, the fewest ever for professional football’s biggest game. Mayor Jane Castor on Thursday ordered that masks be worn in and around the stadium where the game will be held.

The U.S. added 158,861 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, pushing the seven-day average to 166,046, the lowest since Dec. 2. There had been almost 430,000 deaths as of early Thursday.

According to Covid Tracking Project data:

  • Arizona has the most people hospitalized with the virus per capita.
  • Alabama had the most newly reported deaths per capita in the past seven days.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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