JeffCo Health Dept. to City Councilman: ‘We are about to be hit by a tsunami’

Updated: Mar. 25, 2020 at 10:16 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham City Councilman John Hilliard and other city leaders recently heard a dire warning from Jefferson County Department of Health officials, about how COVID-19 cases could impact local hospitals.

“His words were we are about to be hit by a tsunami - a tsunami,” Hilliard said. “He said our hospital system will be overwhelmed. He said this will be equal to World War II. These are words I heard coming out of his mouth. If that don’t scare you, I don’t know what will.”

Hilliard talked about those comments right before the city voted Tuesday to put a shelter in place order into effect through April 3.

When asked about a possible surge in patients, a UAB doctor says the hospital has been preparing for it. One of the ways is delaying elective procedures.

“By using that strategy, we’ve been able to open up some capacity in our hospital so that we can reserve that for the incoming patients who have COVID-19 and are going to require our care,” Dr. Sarah Nafziger with UAB Emergency Medicine said.

The hospital says it’s also struggling to have enough personal protective equipment; items like N-95 masks, isolation gowns, face shields and goggles.

Right now UAB says it has an adequate number of ventilators. They are watching that number closely and looking an alternate ways to get more ventilators if they are needed.

There has also been added stress for small business owners, especially in Jefferson County where all nonessential businesses have been ordered to close. For small business guidance or loan resources, click here.

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