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No ICU beds are available in Alabama as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA/Gray News) - Alabama is out of intensive care units as the number of patients needing ICU treatment continues to rise, WSFA reported Tuesday.

“We’ve never been here before. We are truly now in uncharted territory in terms of our ICU bed capacity,” Alabama Hospital Association President Dr. Don Williamson said.

Williamson says there are least 11 additional patients in need of ICU treatment in Alabama. Some of the patients are being treated on gurneys in hallways or in emergency rooms.

“There were 1,568 patients today who need ICU beds and there are only 1,557 designated ICU beds in the state today,” Williamson said.

Some facilities in Alabama have “over 30 patients in hospitals needing ICU care who are not in a designated ICU bed.”

Although these patients are not in an ICU unit, it does not mean that they are not getting ICU-level care, but they are “taking up other parts of the hospital that would not normally be made into an ICU unit.”

Data shows that only 12% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 are fully vaccinated.

Williamson warned the state’s 23% positive COVID test rate, among the highest in the nation, means Alabama has not yet reached its pandemic surge peak.

This is not only a problem for those with COVID-19, but also for those who need medical attention after suffering from strokes, heart attacks or even crashes.

“Individuals who end up in the hospital will be taken care of, let me be very clear on that,” Williamson said.

He added that because of the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, people may be managed for extended periods of time in the emergency room or even transferred to other facilities for care.

Williamson said that one positive thing to note is that the state’s ventilator capacity is not currently an issue.

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