MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — While much of Alabama is continuing to deal with the tail end of Hurricane Ida, the growing number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide is keeping their resources stretched thin.
Dr. Don Williams, head of the Alabama Hospital Association, said the COVID-19 resurgence is pushing the state’s hospitals to the breaking point.
“We are now at the most critical point yet we’ve been in the pandemic,” Williamson said.
According to the AHA, there were 884 COVID-19 patients in Alabama ICU rooms at the beginning of the week. Of all the ICU beds statewide, 55% of them are being taken by COVID-19 patients.
“We’ve used more ICU beds now than we did in January and we have about 200 fewer patients in the hospital now than we did in January,” Williamson said. “So, we are using ICU beds at much higher rates.”
Williamson attributes the higher rate to the more contagious Delta variant, which also may be causing more severe illness, especially among younger patients.
“We are seeing children hospitalized in greater numbers than we’ve ever seen before,” he said. “We see children in the ICU and on ventilators numbers greater than we’ve ever seen before.”
With 85% to 90% percent of all COVID-19 cases in Alabama among the unvaccinated, Williamson said people need to take the threat more seriously.
“And in that environment, the diseases could continue to smolder along at relatively high rates until everybody who’s susceptible is infected,” he said.
Williamson said that with Alabama missing the brunt of Hurricane Ida, hospitals statewide were spared additional strain.