BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – More than 1,000 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Thursday, marking the fourth day in a series of all-time highs.
“I think this is probably the most frightening part of this, none of these numbers reflect the effect of the 4th of July,” said Dr. Don Williamson, President, Alabama Hospital Association.
“Because we are looking at an incubation period here of minimum days, up to 2 weeks, and usually there’s a lag of about a week from infection to being hospitalized, or a week to two weeks, and so we are probably not going to see the real impact on the healthcare system until next week, and the week after,” said Williamson.
Before the pandemic, available ICU beds would average around 30-35%. This week, availability has dropped as low as 12%.
“There is major movement in the wrong direction, and really these movements have accelerated and that’s the most concerning part of this,” explained Dr. Williamson. “It’s the trajectory of the curve.”
Alabama’s daily infection and hospitalizations are surging, according to Dr. Williamson, who adds “you have to be very concerned about where this virus is headed.”
Like Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned when discussing Alabama’s cases, Dr. Williamson said there is a “window of opportunity” to correct the curve.
“I think that window is short, it’s about 2 weeks, and it’s critical that we act differently, frankly, than we’ve acted until now, that we take the opportunities to social distance, that we really are serious about mask wearing, that we are serious about 6-feet of distance, that we avoid large group gatherings, that we wash hands. If we do those things, we have a chance of reducing the burden that we are going to face in August.”
He continued, “Why is that so important? Well, it’s because we are going to be bringing children back to schools, we are going to increase opportunity to spread the virus in August and early September and if we don’t intervene now, and we have very high rates of disease in August, we are simply going to provide a wonderful opportunity for the virus to explode in August in September both in our K-12 campuses and our university and college campuses. I just think the next two weeks are probably the most important weeks for the state in terms of keeping the healthcare system functional and in terms of helping us have a close to normal academic year as possible.”