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Alabama’s COVID-19 surge continues; 55 children now hospitalized

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s hospitals continue to hover at just under 2,900 COVID-19 inpatients with the number of pediatric cases continuing to climb.

Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said staffing shortages make it harder to take care of patients.

“We started this phase of the pandemic with fewer staff and we’re now dealing with that as a real consequence,” said Williamson. “Coupled with we’re seeing now more patients in the ICU and more patients on ventilators and actually that requires more staff than we needed in January.”

On Tuesday, the Alabama Hospital Association reported 2,873 patients being treated statewide. Of those, 55 are children.

The state still has an intensive care unit bed shortage.

“Patients in the ICU and patients on ventilators all require more one on one care than patients generally do who are on a regular hospital room and a regular floor,” Williamson said.

The hospital association said Tuesday there were 1,537 designated ICU beds but 1,621 ICU patients in need. That leaves the state with 84 patients waiting, either in emergency rooms or on gurneys in hospital hallways, for a bed to open.

Due to the lack of space, Williamson advises that people should only go to the emergency room if absolutely necessary.

“If you have issues that exceed the capacity of your local hospital to provide the care getting you transferred some place is getting extremely, extremely difficult,” Williamson said.

The hospital association said 54% of the state’s ICU beds are currently filled with patients fighting the coronavirus.

Unvaccinated patients continue to make up the vast majority of those needing hospital treatment. About 84% are unvaccinated.

“I think our situation is going to worsen in the coming days and it’s unfortunate because people didn’t get vaccinated when they had the opportunity,” Williamson said.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said it had received 61 death reports related to COVID-19 in the last day.

ADPH was looking at one promising data point in its efforts to stem the latest COVID-19 surge.

“As of Thursday, August 26, approximately 1,736,441 people had completed the COVID-19 vaccine series,” said ADPH’s Ryan Easterling. “As of Monday, August 30, 1,780,052 people have completed the vaccine series, an increase of 43,611 people that are now fully vaccinated.”

Vaccination rates among Alabamians continue to rise, despite the state trailing the rest of the nation.

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