BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased in Alabama by 40% in 24 hours, according to Dr. Don Williamson, President, Alabama Hospital Association. As of Wednesday afternoon, 163 people were admitted to hospitals to be treated for the highly contagious virus, up 51 from Tuesday. Dr. Williamson said the state now has the fewest number of general hospital and ICU beds available since the outbreak began.
“The pandemic is accelerating and the stress on hospitals is increasing,” said Dr. Williamson.
Daily infections are also reaching new highs, with the 7-day average surpassing 1,000, according to data by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
“We are worried, really about the trends that we are seeing. It’s not really about one data point or any one number, but really that we are seeing this sharp increases in hospitalizations and in cases, over the past week or two, is really concerning,” said Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, Infectious Disease physician, UAB.
“And, we expect, given the lag that we know there is between cases and hospitalizations, about a two-week lag, and a three week lag between cases and deaths, that we’re on the part of the curve that we just don’t want to be on in the state.”
UAB was treating 91 patients with COVID-19 on Wednesday, down from 92 the day before. Dr. Williamson said Birmingham-area hospitals are currently treating 253 patients for COVID-19, doubling since last month.
“You have to remember that every bed that we are using today for someone for COVID could potentially be a bed someone could need who is having a stroke, or having a heart attack, these problems are continuing to happen and they need ICU level care too,” said Dr. Dionne-Odom. “We don’t want to just continue to see an increase in the COVID cases because it has an indirect effect for how we care for all the other patients with serious disease.”
Dr. Dionne-Odom said there is widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Alabama and said people need “to keep focused” on wearing a mask while in public.
“We’re all buying time until we have a vaccine and better therapeutics, until we have scientists who can better understand the spread of this better, but the tools that we have now, are effective, we have seen this in other countries, that if we do this well in Alabama we can bring this rate back down.”