Alabama ICU patients outnumber available beds, hospital association says
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - New statistics show the number of ICU patients is outpacing the number of designated available beds, according to the Alabama Hospital Association.
The association tweeted out the latest numbers Monday, revealing a grim picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll on the state’s hospitals.
According to the association, there are more than 2,700 Alabama residents hospitalized with COVID-19, with the majority of the cases involving adults. Of those hospitalized adults, 84% are unvaccinated, 12% are fully vaccinated and 4% are partially vaccinated, according to the association.
Breaking down the numbers even further, there are 1,531 staffed ICU beds, but there are 1,712 ICU patients — with 52% of them having COVID-19.
The association told FOX Television Stations that the remaining 181 ICU patients are "being cared for in the emergency department or other alternate places in the hospital."
RELATED: Alabama runs out of ICU beds as southern states slammed with COVID-19 cases
Last month, the association reported the state was out of ICU beds due to the rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Alabama — like many other states in the South and across the U.S. — has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus and the state’s low vaccination rate. Infections and hospitalization numbers are quickly approaching what they were at the winter peak of the pandemic.
On Sept. 4, schools reported more than 9,195 virus cases in students and staff in the prior week, a surge that has caused more schools to make a temporary switch to remote learning.
"We had dozens of students sent home on the first day of school, and then more and more," Superintendent Eric Mackey said. "Now we have scores of campuses that are closed to in-person instruction."
Mackey said schools are trying, if possible, to avoid closing for long periods of time. He said upcoming standardized test results, which have not yet been released to the public, will show scores took a hit last year when schools closed to in-person instruction.
RELATED: Wolfe City ISD closed for week due to COVID-19 outbreak
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, the state’s seven-day positivity rate is at 21.4%. Other southern states have a similar picture.
Last week, Florida reported its deadliest peak in daily death rates since the start of the pandemic, surpassing previous coronavirus surges in the state, according to federal data. Data provided by the state to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that at least eight days in August produced more daily deaths than during the last peak of the pandemic in August 2020. The typical lag times in the reporting of deaths means the true toll of the pandemic can take weeks to emerge.
Mississippi’s low vaccinated rate, with about 38% of the state’s 3 million people fully inoculated against COVID-19, is driving a surge in cases and hospitalizations that is overwhelming medical workers. Numbers of total coronavirus hospitalizations in Mississippi have dipped slightly, with just under 1,450 people hospitalized for coronavirus on Sept. 1, compared with around 1,670 on Aug. 19. But they are still higher than numbers during previous surges of the virus.
A Central Texas school district closed its schools until after the Labor Day holiday after two teachers died last week of COVID-19. It was not immediately known if either teacher was vaccinated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.