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Alabama health officials watching Missouri’s COVID hospitalizations

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama health officials are keeping a close watch on Missouri’s COVID-19 cases as the state sees a spike in hospitalizations.

Infectious disease experts with the Jefferson County Health Department said Missouri has a higher vaccinated population than Alabama and if hundreds of hospitalizations can happen there, it can happen here too.

“The state of Missouri is experiencing a pretty intense surge in the number of cases,” Jefferson County Infectious disease expert Dr. Wesley Willeford said. “I think as far as where our vaccination numbers are, we are in a very similar position as Missouri. This could begin to happen here and I am afraid what we are beginning to see it’s just the early days of it.”

Willeford said the increase in cases is likely from the more contagious Delta variant.

“They are having to shuffle people around hospital systems just to make sure that every hospital has enough staff to take care of all the patients who are coming in,” Willeford said.

Willeford said Jefferson County hospitals are preparing for a spike in hospitalizations, but they are hoping to avoid it so they can continue care for patients that delayed during the pandemic.

“Not only does the care for people who have Covid deteriorate,” Willeford said about hospitals being full. “People who need care for other reasons may begin to deteriorate as well.”

He said there is still time to prevent what’s happening in Missouri from happening in Alabama with the vaccine.

“Right now, we have a brief window,” Willeford said. “We have a chance where we can get more people vaccinated and really be able to make any increase in the number of cases or hospitalizations as small as possible, so we still heavily heavily encourage people to please get vaccinated.”

Dr. Willeford said it is hard to say exactly how long it could take for our hospitalizations to reach what is happening in Missouri, but he predicts it could be one or two months if more people don’t get vaccinated.

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