DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A federal team of health care workers is being sent to a southwest Alabama hospital seeing a surge in COVID-19 patients, the state health officer said Wednesday.
State Health Officer Scott Harris said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is sending a task force team to Southeast Medical Center in Dothan. Sitting in the far southeast corner of the state, the hospital sees patients from Florida and Georgia. The hospital this month set a new pandemic high with 119 COVID-19 patients.
Alabama is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases that medical officials say is being fueled by low vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.
South Alabama hospitals have been particularly hard hit. The first team in the state was sent to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley. Similar teams have been sent to help in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Between July 19 and Aug. 25, Alabama went from having 500 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals to 2,845. By comparison, the state had 3,087 patients in the hospital at the January peak of the pandemic.
The state has more patients receiving intensive care across the state than there are designated intensive care beds in the state, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. While some hospitals have available ICU beds, other areas are over capacity and have converted other space to intensive care.