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Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalizations declining, ICU bed capacity still critical

Of the 2,474 hospitalized with COVID in Alabama on Monday, 83 percent were unvaccinated.

MONTGOMERY, Ala — Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending down, but the state is still seeing thousands of newly reported cases a day, and while the deficit is shrinking, the state still has fewer ICU beds than patients needing them. 

Alabama’s COVID-19 hospitalizations over the two weeks ending Monday fell by 13 percent, with 2,474 hospitalized on Monday. Of those hospitalized, 83 percent were unvaccinated, according to the Alabama Hospital Association. 

There were 44 children hospitalized with COVID-19 in Alabama on Monday, with 17 in ICU beds and 8 on ventilators, according to the association. Of the 24 pregnant women hospitalized with COVID on Monday, 3 were in ICUs and one was on a ventilator. 

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The state’s deficit of available ICU beds has also decreased. A week ago Alabama hospitals had 181 more patients needing ICU care than the state had ICU beds. As of Monday, the deficit had fallen to 11, with half of all ICU patients having COVID-19. 

“It means they’re in the waiting room, some are in the back of ambulances, things of that nature,” Jeannie Gaines, a spokesperson for the Alabama Hospital Association, told The New York Times, speaking about the lack of ICU beds. 

Alabama’s seven-day average of new daily reported COVID cases for the week ending Sunday was 3,702. That’s well above the state’s seven-day average for new reported daily cases on July 1, at 233. 

The percentage of Alabamians fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has increased in recent weeks as well, up to 40.4 percent, but the state is only ahead of three other states — West Virginia, Wyoming and Idaho — and medical experts say far more need to be vaccinated to come close to controlling the virus. 

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To get a glimpse at the impact vaccinations can have in a state, look at Maine, where 72.7 percent of those eligible for COVID vaccines those 12 and up, are fully vaccinated. On Monday the state had 194 hospitalized COVID patients, with 40 of them, or 3.41 per 100,000 residents, on ventilators. 

In Alabama, where just 47.1 percent of those aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated, there were 2,474 COVID patients hospitalized on Monday, and 576, or 11.29 per 100,000 residents, on ventilators. Alabama had 230 percent more residents per 100,000 on ventilators with COVID on Monday than did Maine. 

This story originally appeared in the Alabama Political Reporter.

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