MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Novel coronavirus deaths have fallen to levels not seen March, while infections have been surging for more than a month.
Experts agree there is no single explanation for the diverging trends. Here are five likely possibilities:
- Heat and humidity. Dr. David Rubin, director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia PolicyLab, told FOX10 News that it is a “really important question” if the summer weather reduces respiratory droplets and makes infections less severe.
- Younger patients. Many experts have noted that recent coronavirus cases have skewed toward a younger demographic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Facebook appearance with Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) this week that the average age of people testing positive is about 15 years younger than it was few years ago.
In Alabama, people younger than 25 have accounted for 26 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases since June 1. That’s double what it was before June 1. Younger, healthier people are much less likely to die. Residents 65 and older make up almost 79 percent of Alabama’s COVID-19 deaths, while those younger than 50 account of less than 5 percent.
- Better protections at nursing homes. John Matson, a spokesman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, told FOX10 News he cannot say whether those facilities are having more success keeping the virus out. But state records show long-term care facilities are home to a smaller share of the sate’s cases. As of Thursday, workers and residents of those facilities made up less than 10 percent of all infections. By comparison, it was 15.5 percent through the end of May.
- Better treatments. There is no cure for the novel coronavirus. But experts contend that doctors and physicians have gotten better at treating the illness. That includes better protocols the prevent the need for mechanical ventilators. Health care providers also point to drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone.
- More testing. Alabama registered 54,944 coronavirus tests last week. That is more than double what it was in the week ending May 2. Experts say the testing limits deaths in two ways. It captures more asymptomatic and lightly symptomatic people, which makes the death rate lower. More testing also might lead to an actual decline in mortality by identifying infections sooner and intervening with treatments earlier.