DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN) — Positive coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, deaths due to COVID-19 and the Delta variant have been on the downslide over recent weeks across the state of Alabama.

According to Danne Howard with the Alabama Hospital Association, more Alabamians have died of COVID this year than in all of last year. In Houston County alone, during 2020 and so far in 2021, 391 of our family members, neighbors, and friends have died of COVID-19. This is why she urges every Alabamian to remain cautious especially as fall festivals are underway, and the holiday season approaches.

Howard said as we keep seeing a decrease in hospitalizations it’s important to remember mitigation and COVID-19 protocols especially as we head into the season of gathering and getting together. She said this will help prevent future deaths and surges throughout the state.

“We had a significant number of deaths,” Howard said. “I think when it’s all said and done, I think it is 2,000 if not more, over the last six weeks.”

On Monday, Southeast Health reported a total of 28 patients battling COVID-19 in its hospital. Flowers Hospital has a total of 27 COVID-19 patients. She said these numbers are much less than last month but the situation could be reversed if the community isn’t careful.

“Unfortunately part of the reason some of our hospital numbers have been getting better is because of deaths,” Howard said. “While we have been trending in the right direction it has not been without significant loss and emotional tragedy.”

According to Howard, to date a total of 14,859 deaths have occurred in the state, meaning COVID has taken 1 in every 330 Alabamians’ lives.

In fact, data from ADPH shows in the Wiregrass, Coffee County reported a total of 183 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Dale County has a total of 178 deaths. Geneva County has a total of 121 and Henry County reports a total of 61 deaths. Some of which she said could have been prevented.

“When things start getting better, keep doing what you have been doing,” Howard said. “Don’t let your guard down.”

Howard said even though it may seem safe, we aren’t quite yet out of the woods. She encourages every Alabamian who hasn’t already done so, to get vaccinated and wear a mask. She said this is the one and only way to protect our community and state from another COVID-19 surge especially as we head into the National Peanut Festival and holiday seasons.