Health officials concerned as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Across the country, we’ve seen long lines for COVID-19 testing. As Alabama’s case count reaches concerning levels, some locations in the Birmingham metro area now seeing crowds of people waiting to get a test.

American Family Care offers rapid tests. On Thursday, the Hoover location had a full lobby, with some standing outside of the building to get tested.

Jefferson County has not seen since a high case count since late July.

“In July, our hospitals got to 100% capacity,” said Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson. “We are rapidly approaching that point now. And I expect it could get worse than it was in July, in the next couple of weeks. So, we are not in a good place.”

Wilson said, although we are better prepared now than we were at the start of the pandemic, these rising numbers are no welcome news. He’s asking for people to act like we’re in a global pandemic that has claimed nearly a quarter million American lives.

“What we really need right now is help from the public to avoid these private gatherings, parties, people getting together where they’re not taking precautions and letting their guards down,” said Dr. Wilson.

DCH Regional Hospital in Tuscaloosa says they have sections of the hospital that can be converted into COVID-19 units if needed.

“It’s certainly a concern when numbers start to go up,” said Andy North, a representative for the hospital. “And we’re watching those numbers, being very careful in what we do internally to make sure we’re able to provide the resources needed to have the room capacity and people capacity for it.”

DCH is currently treating over 70 COVID-19 patients. North said we are seeing cases go up as people’s tolerance for CDC guidelines goes down.

“This is really all coming from community spread,” said North. “This is people going to events or around other individuals that don’t know that they have it and they’re not being careful.”

Health officials are encouraging people to follow CDC guidelines if they plan to spend the holidays with family. To read those guidelines, click here.


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