UAB health experts are expecting a surge in the number of new coronavirus cases in the coming weeks. Alabama hit 1,785 hospitalizations Tuesday, a new record that marks the most since August.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, head of UAB’s infectious diseases division, said she expects numbers to rise over the coming weeks because of Thanksgiving gatherings.
“This is a time when we need to start thinking of things like ‘tidal wave’ imagery. Tsunami imagery. We really are very, very concerned,” Marrazzo said. “Of course, the fear is that we have this constant level of surge, we have this spike right now, and we could really be in a situation in two to three weeks that comprises our ability to provide healthcare.”
The positivity rate in Alabama is up to 20%. At the same time, testing rates are down compared to previous months, according to Marrazzo. The number of available intensive care unit beds statewide is dwindling.
“If you look at some of the models that forecast what’s going to happen in three weeks after Thanksgiving and you superimpose it on the numbers we’re seeing now, you could conceivably see a true need for setting up ancillary care places,” Marrazzo said.
Alabama is expected to receive 40,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in an initial shipment.
“Allocations can change,” Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health told WBHM in an email.
Additional vaccines will be shipped to Alabama depending on allocation models, supply, and whether other vaccines are granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Frontline health care workers and some first responders top the priority list for early doses, according to the ADPH’s Vaccination Allocation Plan. But there have been questions about whether nursing home residents and staff should also get priority.
“These are two-dose vaccines, so everything you see you’ve got to divide by two if you’re talking about fully immunizing people. Because a single dose, we hope, confers some protection, but we don’t think it’s enough,” Marrazzo said.
She said Alabama will likely receive the vaccines in January. Alabama was previously slated to receive the vaccine in December.
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