Alabama’s COVID Hospitalizations On Track To Surpass Winter Surge

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Healthcare workers in COVD-19 area at UAB.

UAB

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Alabama continue surging at an “unprecedented” rate, putting the state on track to break its previous record.

“We need Alabamians to understand that we’re in a very difficult position right now,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “We’re seeing case numbers again as high as we have ever seen.”

As of Thursday afternoon, hospitals were caring for 2,441 inpatients. That number will likely exceed the winter peak of 3,084 within three to four days, Harris told reporters Thursday.

With just 5% of intensive care unit beds available, Harris said that the state is considering requesting federal aid to help hospitals combat the surge and deal with staff shortages.

Alabama Department of Public Health
Graph from the Alabama Department of Public Health shows the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, UAB Hospital announced Thursday that starting next week, it will decrease its normal number of inpatient surgical cases by about half.

“We are in a dire circumstance right now,” Nafziger said. “UAB Hospital is not unbreakable. But we’re rapidly getting into a position where care for services that we take for granted is not going to be available if we don’t turn this thing around.”

She said that the hospital is preparing to create additional COVID units in hallways and conference rooms, if needed.

The hospital system will start declining transfer requests for specialty care and will limit visitors.

Beginning next week, visitors will not be allowed in the emergency room, except in compassionate care circumstances.

As the fourth wave of COVID infections continues, deaths are also starting to climb upwards. Harris, with the state health department, said that it’s a lagging indicator that will almost certainly get worse.

“We’ve had more than a week now of deaths in the double digits. This is a snapshot of what was happening three or four weeks ago,” Harris said.

Statewide, health officials continue to encourage residents to get vaccinated, citing that close to 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are not fully protected against the virus.

WBHM’s Miranda Fulmore contributed to this story.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that UAB Hospital will be delaying surgeries for cancer patients and transplants. UAB officials updated their memo on 8/13/21 to clarify that these surgeries will not be delayed.

 

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