For the first time in recorded history, more people died in Alabama in 2020 than were born in the state.
The state saw some 64,714 total deaths last year, Harris said, compared to about 57,641 births. Those numbers are only preliminary, and officials will confirm them toward the end of this year.
Alabama hasn’t hit such a milestone in more than 100 years, even during World War II, noted Harris.
Behind the numbers is the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus which is spreading in Alabama, as well as much of the county.
It’s putting a strain on critical healthcare systems in Alabama, as the state currently doesn’t have enough ICU beds for those who need them.
Still, some politicians there continue to push back on vaccines. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall joined other GOP attorneys general last week in threatening to sue the White House over itsrecent vaccine mandate plans.
Some 41.3% of Alabama’s population is fully vaccinated, according to NPR’s tracker. Harris said at the briefing that the state “continues to do a pretty good job” in that regard. Nationally, 54.6% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated.
And 2020’s milestone may soon not be unique. Alabama could see higher deaths than births again in 2021 if the state continues on it’s current grim trajectory.
This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.