As COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in Alabama, medical experts said they're expecting an even bigger increase after the 4th of July weekend.

"We have to prevent this from happening. We have to anticipate and plan rather than trying to react and resolve when the problem occurs,“ said Dr. William Admire with Infirmary Health.

The numbers tell the story. As of now, in Alabama, there are 8000 general medical beds, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. President Dr. Donald Williamson told FOX 10 news, 2100 of those beds are currently empty. Williamson said 300 of those empty beds are ICU beds.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, as of Tuesday, there were 715 COVID-19 patients hospitalized.

“Fortunately we still are okay in terms of systemwide capacity. We’ve got plenty of beds. We’ve got plenty of ventilators. We have a little less than 300 ICU beds available. That’s about 18% of our ICU bed capacity," Dr. Williamson said.

So can Alabama handle a surge of hospitalizations?

Dr. Williamson said it depends. If those hospitalizations are widespread, the state can. However, if those cases are confined to areas with high COVID-19 rates already, maybe not.

Williamson said the Alabama Hospital Association is working with local hospitals around the state. He said each hospital has a surge plan and has the capacity to create more ICU beds.

“We are prepared. The four hospitals have made sure that we have enough PPE, our staffing is good," Admire added.

Dr. Williamson said if people practice CDC guidelines, there is a chance that we can keep the numbers down and start to see a decline in cases and hospitalizations.

“It’s in everybody’s best interest that we keep our COVID hospitalizations down because there are still people who have heart attacks, strokes who need to get in and get those problems taken care of," he explained.

Since there isn't any regulation for masks in Mobile just yet, Dr. Admire believes personal responsibility is the way to seeing a drop in numbers.

“We are in agreement that we should probably do universal mask being in public and this can help decrease the spread of coronavirus because you know it’s from droplets when you talk or yell or scream or sneeze or cough,” Admire said.

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.


Toi Thornton is a Reporter. His Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism comes from Dillard University in 2014 and his Master's degree in New Media Journalism from Full Sail University in 2016. He previously worked as the Fox anchor in Lafayette, LA.

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