BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We are seeing increased number of COVID-19 patients in Alabama hospitals. So far they can handle the workload but there are concerns that could change with more patients.
Remember back in September after the July 4th holiday surge, we saw numbers skyrocket up to 1,500. That number dropped to 722 in September. Now, hospitals are seeing over a thousand.
The latest jump in coronavirus patients across Alabama is being monitored by the Alabama Hospital Association.
“I’m really worried we are in that accelerating phase where by Thanksgiving we could be well beyond 1,500 patients,” said Dr. Don Williamson.
Williamson said antibody therapy could help to keep hospitalizations down. At this time there are 230-240 ICU beds available across the state. But Williamson said allowing businesses to increase their occupancy rate, the holidays, and college students going home are big threats to increasing those numbers.
"There are two holidays coming up. I don’t think there is any question we are going to have group gatherings and people are not going to wear their masks. I don’t expect them to but that is going to be a concern.” Williamson said.
Williamson said the latest news that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available by the end of the year is good news but another factor which could lead people not to protect themselves.
“People have mask fatigue. They think because we have a vaccine lurking over the horizon that this is over,” Williamson said.
Williamson said the reality is that a vaccine may not be available for everyone until spring or summer of next year. He does believe the hospitals are on track for 1,500 patients like we saw in July and August. That will be difficult but hospitals can handle it. The big unknown is still flu and it’s impact. Williamson said they key will be to see if we can make it through January without a surge of cases.