'Our state literally shrunk': In 2020, deaths outpaced births in Alabama

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Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, more deaths were recorded than births in Alabama marking a first in the state's history, The New York Times reported Sept. 18. 

Almost 65,000 deaths were reported last year in the state, compared to 57,641 births.

"Our state literally shrunk in 2020," Scott Harris, MD, Alabama's health officer, said during a Sept. 17 news conference. "We've never had a time when deaths exceeded births."

Dr. Harris attributed the excess deaths to the pandemic.

"It's not a coincidence that that's about exactly the number of deaths we had from COVID-19," he told AL.com.

The Times cited data from the state's health department that shows 7,182 of deaths that occurred last year were officially tied to COVID-19.

The state's earliest available records date back to 1900, Dr. Harris said, adding that such a gap between deaths and births was never reported during World War I, World War II, or the 1918 flu pandemic.

In 25 states, more people died than were born in 2020, according to a study from Durham-based University of New Hampshire published in May. The same was true for just five states in 2019.

Nationwide, 2020 marked the sixth consecutive year that the birth rate declined, the Times reports.

 

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