Some doctors believe rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations could strain Alabama’s health care system again


Registered nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, Ala (WIAT) — As a new week begins, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alabama continues to rise. 

And state health leaders say it’s going to get worse, even if more people decide today to get vaccinated. 

“I’m worried about where we are and very worried about where we’re headed,” said Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association. “People infected with it have a thousand to 1,200 times more virus particles than people did with the original version. We know they are significantly more infectious.”

Williamson said hospitalizations in Alabama jumped from 204 at the beginning of July to over 1,447 as of Monday. But with cases numbers jumping and vaccination rates still lagging in the state, Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said the clock is ticking on beating this latest strain of COVID-19.

“If we started vaccinating more people today, and everyone started adhering to mask guidance today, we still have the ongoing community transmissions,” Landers said. “So, it would certainly take us weeks to get this back under control.”

Both Landers and Williamson said the biggest worry if hospitalizations continue to spike is not having enough beds to house patients, but enough staff to take care of them.

“We can have the beds, but if we don’t have the staff to man those beds then we might as well not have the beds,” Williamson said.

And while there is no statewide mask mandate currently in place, Landers and Williamson say everyone, vaccinated or not should be masking up as this latest surge continues.

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