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Are Alabama hospitals prepared for new COVID variant and possible surge?


DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — It’s the question on many Alabamians’ minds, once news of the new COVID-19 variant broke, are Alabama hospitals across the state prepared for another possible surge to happen?

According to the President of the Alabama Hospital Association, Dr. Don Williamson, hospitals need to better prepare and position ourselves against Omicron, now is the time to monitor the emergence of the variant since not a lot of data is known at this time.

“We have almost been given another window. We don’t have a widespread in the U.S. yet,” Dr. Williamson said. “I think everybody agrees, it’s we just haven’t identified it yet.”

Medical experts said as of right now, Alabama hospitals have better defense with COVID-19- therapies and better effectiveness in day-to-day operations.

“Hospitals have become increasingly able to more rapidly mobilize staff, beds, and supplies to address these surges,” Dr. Williamson said.

For the past 21 days, the state has not seen a decline in hospitalizations, but has been flatlined with an average of 300 COVID patients a day, with still over 100 people fighting the virus in ICUs.

The current COVID-19 transmission rate in Alabama sits at 5.3%, which is a slight increase from last week, which was 4.3% and this data is before holiday gatherings took place.

“Clearly suggests that we are seeing more transmission than we did before and we are seeing that transmission before the holiday season, that is what is really concerning,” Dr. Williamson said.

The worry comes having less than 50% of Alabama’s population fully vaccinated, the current COVID stage, plus mixing flu season and a new variant could mean an increase of hospitalizations could occur in the coming weeks.

“We still haven’t solved the staffing issue, that is still going to be there but for the resources we have available I think we are in a better position to deal with this surge,” Dr. Williamson said.

Dr. Williamson stressed now is a window for people who aren’t vaccinated to get one and those who haven’t received a booster and are eligible to get theirs. He does say at this time there is no reason to panic but being prepared is always the best defense.


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