State virus deaths top 4,000 as state sets virus records

Published 5:45 am Friday, December 11, 2020

Alabama on Thursday hit new records for COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and a new low for the percentage of available intensive care beds in the states.

The wave of cases comes in the wake of holiday gatherings, a situation health officials fear could deteriorate headed into Christmas.
“I think we are seeing the Thanksgiving surge,” said Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who now heads the Alabama Hospital Association.

Williamson said the state hit multiple new records Thursday. Those were for the number of daily hospital admissions, the total number of COVID-19 patients in state hospitals and the number of cases reported in a single day. There were 2,170 COVID-19 patients in state hospitals. Alabama reported more than 4,000 new virus cases Thursday.

UAB Hospital said the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital has doubled in the two weeks since Thanksgiving. The hospital had a record 159 patients on Thursday.

The percentage of intensive care beds that are empty in the state hit a new low of 7%, Williamson said. Hospitals can add beds to provide care, but Williamson said the ICU availability percentage is a good measure of the “stress on the system.”

“What I’m seeing now is stress on the system worse than we’ve ever seen before,” he said.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks from 2,261.71 new cases per day on Nov. 25 to 3,337 new cases per day on Dec. 9, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

The number of confirmed and probable virus deaths in Alabama topped 4,000 on Thursday. State Health Officer Scott Harris on Wednesday said the number of Alabamians lost to the virus is the same as having “a 747 crash every month for the last 10 months.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday extended a state health order that requires face coverings in public places.