BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Hospitals throughout Alabama continue to face staffing shortages through the pandemic. This recent shortage has been caused by more and more hospital workers getting sick, particularly with COVID-19.

“I’m worried now,” President of the Alabama Hospital Association Dr. Don Williamson said.

“That’s right now where my main concern lies. You know, we may have beds, but we don’t have anybody to staff the beds,” Dr. David Kimberlin with Children’s of Alabama said.

The infectious nature of the Omicron variant is to blame for the recent sickness, given that more fully vaccinated people are catching it. Hospitals are seeing those numbers first hand.

“But over the last ten days, we have seen our hospitalizations increase by 161%,” Williamson said.

Shortage of staff isn’t a new issue in the state, and President of the Alabama Nursing Association Lindsay Harris says hospitals can’t afford any more shortages.

“Here in the state of Alabama we really cannot afford to lose nurses,” she said.

When there are less workers, nurses pick up extra tasks, which Harris says can impact job performance.

“When those staff members are short, nursing really picks up the slack for that,” she said.

With the recent surge in cases, experts urge more people to get fully vaccinated in order to protect themselves and workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Dr. Williamson says those workers out with COVID are following all CDC guidelines before they are cleared to return.