BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama is set to break the highest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 any day now. This is bringing major concern to health leaders with Alabama currently with the lowest number of ICU beds available since the pandemic began.
Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said the wide spread of the Delta Variant has changed a lot as the state deals with the pandemic including what herd immunity will look like. Previous data showed Alabama would need at least 70 percent of people to get vaccinated to reach herd immunity, but Dr. Harris says it could be as high as 90 percent.
In the mean time with high hospitalization numbers, the state is looking at additional resources that may be needed to bring the numbers down.
“About the possibility of using federal resources to bring in caregivers and perhaps even set up additional sites. There is a lot of ways you can expand your capacity hospitals can take a normal clinical space and add ventilators or ICU staff if they have those people available,” Dr. Harris said.
Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said he also has big concerns with the impact this is leaving on the entire health care system. This is applicable to not only COVID-19 patients, but people suffering from other illnesses as well some starting to see their treatments delayed.
To help bring hospitalization numbers down, Dr. Williamson suggests the state adopt a three fold plan targeting both short and long-term goals.
One goal should be to get people to wear masks since the spread of the Delta Variant is out of hand and nothing can be done to slow it’s spread currently. The second goal should be for people to seek help from their physicians when they are immediately exposed to someone with COVID-19.
“To immediately contact their physicians to see if they are a candidate for post exposure prophylactic. Likewise we can get individuals who have early symptoms of COVID to contact their physicians to see if they are a candidate for mono antibody therapy,” Dr. Williamson said.
The final long-term goal would be to get the public vaccinated and find the best solution to get hospitals operational with the right resources.