BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — UAB Medicine hosted a Q&A session regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday afternoon.
UAB was joined by leaders from eight local hospitals as well as the Jefferson County Department of Health, including Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson.
Dr. Wilson spearheaded the conversation all healthcare officials reiterated, expressing the concern of Alabamians to get vaccinated.
“The most important thing we can do right now is to get vaccinated as soon as possible if you have not yet done so,” Dr. Wilson said. “While things are really bad, as they are now, we need everyone to mask back up and get back to the basics. Masking, social distancing, washing your hands, avoiding big crowds. I know this is hard, but it’s hard on everybody, especially our healthcare workers.”
Ascension St. Vincent’s hospitals in the state are currently treating almost 100 patients with COVID-19, according to the Chief Medical Officer of Ascension St. Vincent’s Hospital Dr. Timothy Bode. Nearly 88% of those patients are unvaccinated.
Alabama remains at the bottom for vaccination rate in the country and cases and hospitalizations have seen a sharp increase in recent weeks. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said there is potential for stricter guidelines and possible mask mandates returning if this trend continues.
Dr. Bode also made mention of how difficult this current rise in hospitalizations has been for healthcare workers.
“Our staff right now are exhausted,” he said “We’re facing a new surge with exhausted and a labor shortage. That just piles on.”
All but two of the 67 counties in Alabama have been marked as “high risk” for contraction rate of the virus, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.
You can watch the full Q&A session in the player above.