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Hospitals concerned about impact of Labor Day weekend

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 5:21 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Many folks are getting ready to enjoy the long Labor Day holiday weekend. Meanwhile, Alabama health leaders are hoping it won’t lead to another increase in more people getting COVID and more people needing beds in ICUs.

As an example, at St. Vincent’s, they have 163 hospitalized with COVID. 61 in ICU. Statewide, we are looking at just under 3,000 hospitalized and the demand for ICU beds is at an all-time high.

Dr. Don Williamson with the Alabama Hospital Association said state hospitals are continuing to face a crisis situation.

“We never had more people in the ICU than we have now. We never had as many patients on ventilators as we have now,” Williamson said.

State hospitals have a total of 1,541 ICU beds, but there is a demand for 1,661 beds. This means an all time high of -120 beds.

Dr. Williamson said while the overall admissions seem to be more stable, the severity of the illness in the patients seems to be more extreme than ever. Williamson is worried about the impact of the holiday weekend.

“People will gather with friends and family which is appropriate, but because some family and friends won’t be vaccinated, everybody won’t be wearing masks, the results will be spread from some of those,” Williamson said.

College football kicks off this weekend as well. This is another potential for the highly contagious Delta variant to spread among thousands of people.

“You got a hundred thousand people excited. Maybe half vaccinated. Maybe half not vaccinated. Most not wearing masks. You worry about transmission there,” Williamson said.

Dr. Williamson said it appears hospitalizations have stabilized in part due to vaccinations and increasing use of monoclonal antibodies, which will prevent people getting too sick for hospital care.

Williamson said we are in a surge now. This weekend looks like there is a greater chance for more infections. That means in two weeks, there could be even more COVID hospitalizations and in three weeks, ICUs could be beyond the breaking point.

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