State Health Officer: Lack of ICU beds in Alabama spells crisis

Icu Shortage

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Karris Harmon

Alabama’s students and schools are being pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday.

Last week, the Alabama Department of Public Health announced 8,400 COVID-19 cases among schools in the state. In all, 138 out of 143 school districts reported COVID-19 numbers among students or faculty.

That’s a 605% increase compared with September 2020. While there is no universal mask mandate in the state, Harris said the only way those numbers will come down is with universal masking requirements.

“That is one of the best things you can do to keep kids in the classroom setting,” Harris said. “When students are consistently masked and schools do what they need to do to mitigate infections, then those kids don’t need to be quarantined if they are exposed to a case. This is a really simple, straightforward way to keep students in the classroom setting.”

Harris is also urging parents of students 12 and older to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19.

“If you want to have a normal school semester or as close as we can, if you want to have a good holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up this is how to do it,” Harris said. “We get people vaccinated now so that in two months we can try to get back more or less to normal, which is somewhere we all very much want to be.”

Harris said hospitalizations are at a plateau with 2,677 hospitalizations and 53 pediatric hospitalizations. Those aren’t great numbers, but Harris said he’s glad the numbers are not still rising. When it comes to available ICU beds, Harris said the state is in a crisis.

“We continue to have a real crisis in Alabama with our ICU bed capacity,” Harris said. “(Sept. 9) there were about 60 or so more patients requiring ICU care than we have ICU beds in the state.”

Those patients are being cared for in emergency departments or other triage areas, Harris said.

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