BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – With a dozen of its intensive care beds already full, the Cullman Regional Medical Center showed great eagerness for the option of showing more and more COVID-19 patients.
The ten beds, normally used for less severe cases, were transformed into intensive care rooms with additional IV machines. The video monitor was set up to enable staff to monitor patients whenever a nurse had to scramble to take care of someone else.
The patch worked – for the time being, at least.
“We are like a bathtub that is filling with water and the drain is blocked,” the hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. William Smith said last week.
Alabama, one of the long-standing unhealthiest and worst states in the US, has emerged as one of the country’s most dangerous coronavirus hot spots.
Its hospitals are in crisis as the virus goes out of control in the region with high rates of obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions that may make COVID-19 even more dangerous, where access to health care is limited even before the outbreak Thi, and where public resistance to masks and other precautions is stubborn.
In another indication of how easily the virus can spread, the first reported case of the COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom has been discovered in Colorado.
The variant was found in a man in his 20s who is isolated south-east of Denver and has no travel history, State Health Service Tuesday. Scientists in the UK believe the new variant is more infectious than previously identified strains.
In total, coronaviruses have killed more than 335,000 people across America, including more than 4,700 people in Alabama. Places like California and Tennessee have also been hit particularly hard in recent weeks.
At Cullman Regional, a midsize hospital operating in an agricultural area 55 miles north of Birmingham, the intensive care unit was at 180% capacity as of last week, the highest in the state. Other hospitals are also struggling to sustain the crush of people sick with the virus.
While a typical patient may require ICU treatment for two or three days, Smith said, patients with COVID-19 often live for two or three weeks, leading to the formation of a casiolad.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Alabama ranked sixth on the list of states with the most new cases per capita during the past week. Alabama’s latest average positivity rate – the percentage of positive test returns for the virus – is about 40%, one of the highest figures in the country. And the state is seeing an average of 46 deaths per day, up from 14 on 30 December.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, nationwide levels of the ICU were 78% in the week of 18–24, with Alabama completing 91%. As of last week, 15 hospitals in Alabama had intensive care units that were over or above capacity, and six more hospitals had ICUs at least 96% complete.
On Tuesday, 2,804 people were in Alabama’s hospitals with COVID-19, the most since the epidemic began.
Experts worry that stress will only increase after the holidays as new infections are associated with travel and gatherings of family and friends.
“I think we are in a serious way. I really do, ”head of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Said Don Williamson. “I think our Christmas hike is going to be a lot worse than the Thanksgiving hike.”
Alabama government’s K Ivey, taking a timely break with some of his southern counterparts, imposed a statewide mask mandate that has been in force since July, but health officials have struggled to get people to follow it. The Republican governor issued an order to stay indoors soon after the epidemic, but strongly opposed to doing so again, saying, “You can’t have a life without a livelihood.”
In contrast, California has in recent weeks issued strict stay orders in areas where ICU occupancy has reached 85%.
State Health Officer of Alabama Dr. “We have, unfortunately, people who are still getting together in groups, traveling for vacations, doing things that are unsafe,” said Scott Harris.
The state of Deep South has some of the highest rates of chronic health conditions that increase the risk of death or serious illness from coronovirus. Alabama has the sixth highest rate of adult obesity in the US and ranks third in the percentage of adults with diabetes.
Alabama is also one of a dozen states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and thus have a large number of unconfirmed. Henry j. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 15% of people ages 19 to 64 have no coverage, which is the 13th largest percentage in the country.
The state has closed 17 hospitals, most of them small villagers, over the past decade, a trend that left regional facilities to become sluggish.
At Decatur Morgan Hospital, COVID-19 deaths have tripled since September and the intensive care unit is full, Dr. James Boyle said. Pulmonologists struggled to maintain, prevent and purify their lips, as they discussed the possibility of taking care of the ration in the new year.
“I’ve been practicing in this county since ’98. I’ve never given two or more people on ventilators with the flu in the last 20 years,” he said. “We always have a lot of patients in the ICU in the winter Occur. There are 16 patients on a ventilator with a disease for which we usually have nothing unprecedented. “
UAB Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Alabama in Birmingham, has brought in retired nurses and dozens of teachers and students from its nursing school to help.
Hospitals in Alabama are receiving calls from neighboring states such as Mississippi and Tennessee because doctors want additional space for COVID-19 patients, but are not able to help as often as they used to in the past. It is the same within the state, with hospitals that can help care for patients after a disaster such as a tornado that is unable to assist right now.
The end of the epidemic is visible, with thousands already present in two doses needed to guard against COVID-19. But meanwhile the toll on medical staff is increasing.
“We see death. Is part of what we do; This is part of our training, ”Boyle said. He said, ‘The difficulty this year is just tremendous. We cannot suffer for one patient, before we take care of another.
Chandler contributed to this story from Montgomery, Alabama.