By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama on Wednesday hit a new high for the number of coronavirus cases reported in a single day and the number of patients hospitalized with the disease, health officials said as hospitals brace for an additional wave of cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving gatherings.
Dr. Scott Harris, Alabama’s state health officer, said excluding backlogged cases, the state reported more than 3,000 additional virus cases Wednesday, a new daily record. The state also reported having 1,801 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest number since the pandemic began.
“There is simply a great deal of community transmission occurring right now in most parts of Alabama. Now, more than ever, we hope that Alabamians can avoid large gatherings, wear masks in public and try to maintain a 6-foot distance from other households whenever possible,” Harris said.
Bama Tracker New COVID-19 Cases and 7-Day Average
Bama Tracker Confirmed Hospitalizations
One in three patients in intensive care units in the state have COVID-19, said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association.
Only 10% of the state’s 1,634 intensive care beds were available Monday, Williamson said. He said there are 1,471 ICU beds in use, and 486 of those are filled with COVID-19 patients.
The number of COVID-19 patients is nearly 200 higher than the previous mid-summer peak.
“We are reaching a saturation point with COVID that is probably going to get a lot worse,” Williamson said. He said 249 COVID-19 patients are on ventilators across the state, the highest number since the pandemic began.
He said the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings on hospitalizations will be seen in the coming weeks.
Williamson said staffing is the biggest concern among hospitals.
The state health department has reported more than 256,000 confirmed and probable virus cases and at least 3,711 confirmed and probable virus deaths in Alabama.
While the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms in most people, it can be deadly for the elderly and people with other, serious health problems.
A statewide order requiring face masks in public expires Dec. 11, but Republican Gov. Kay Ivey could extend the mandate for additional weeks as she has done in the past.