Could Alabama suffer from a demographic crunch in the coming years?
The 2020 U.S. Census had state government officials scrambling to make a concerted push for census participation to prevent Alabama's possible loss of a congressional seat and federal funding.
Estimates before the 2020 census results were released had shown Alabama had grown, but it had not grown as fast as other states.
More problems could lie ahead for Alabama's population growth, according to State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
During an appearance on Alabama Public Television's "Capitol Journal," Harris discussed the state's handling of COVID-19.
Harris said despite the 20,000 deaths the state suffered, there were some victories during the pandemic response.
"[O]ur team really pulled together and worked together really hard and really well," Harris said. "I know there are some terrible things that have happened with the pandemic. We've lost more than 20,000 Alabamians so far to this. And yet, we do feel like we have a lot of successes to celebrate. You know, we were able to keep our health care system up and running. Our hospitals are still functioning. Society is still standing. Schools are running again. And so, there a lot of ways we're very proud of the work that we've done."
According to Harris, for the first time in the state's history, Alabama had more deaths than births over two consecutive years.
"Nobody could have really seen this coming," Harris said. "I guess the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 and 1919 would be the other comparison. I don't remember that, and I don't think you remember that. But really, there's nothing else like that that we've ever seen. You know, for two straight years now, in 2020 and in 2021, Alabama has had more deaths in our state than we have had births. And that has never happened before in the history of our state. That's the first time that has ever happened, going back to the 19th century.
"And yet, we did that for two straight years. It's attributable to the number of people who died [of] COVID. As I just mentioned, we passed the 20,000 mark recently. That's much more deadly than any other outbreak we have ever experienced in the history of our state. And when you look at total numbers of deaths, it's more deadly than, of course, than the Spanish Flu pandemic. Obviously, we're a larger state now than we were then. But the death rates are about the same. It's just been a really terrible time."
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