Birmingham: The new coronavirus is spreading so quickly through the state that COVID-19 is rampant, and there’s little hope of real improvement until weeks after the holidays, despite the hope presented by new vaccines, health officials said Wednesday. “It’s out of control,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, the president of the Alabama Hospital Association and former director of the state health agency. The rolling daily average of new cases over the past two weeks has increased by 684, a jump of about 50%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, and 1 in every 342 people in Alabama tested positive in the past week. More than 3,300 people have died since the coronavirus pandemic began, state statistics show. With Thanksgiving next week and the Christmas season on its heels, officials fear large gatherings of families and friends will spread the virus even more and result in a wave of illness that won’t diminish until late January at the earliest, even though a relatively small number of people could begin receiving vaccines in December.

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