Category: Health Care

Jefferson County Plans to Set Up COVID-19 Nursing Home Unit

Jefferson County Commissioners today OK’d establishing a dedicated unit to care for nursing home patients who have COVID-19 in one location. The commission authorized an agreement with the UAB board of trustees to establish the unit. The plan calls for Jefferson County to use a portion of its Cares Act funds for this project, which will put patients in a wing of Aspire Physical Recovery Center at Hoover. Read more.

Low ICU Capacity Could Affect Non-Coronavirus Patients the Most


Alabama’s ICU capacity has fallen to 19% as coronavirus cases continued to climb steadily across the state. That amounts to about 300 ICU beds of 1,600 available statewide. Alabama confirmed 787 new cases Friday, bringing the total to 28,583. While the number of hospitalizations has fluctuated slightly, overall it has trended upward since the pandemic began. That’s concerning to Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

For more on the impact on hospitals, WBHM spoke with Williamson. Read more.

UAB Treating Its Highest Number of Coronavirus Patients Since the Pandemic Began, Health Experts Say

The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 and people testing positive for the virus continues to spiral across Alabama and in Jefferson County, health experts participating in a UAB Hospital press conference said Monday.

In the past seven to 14 days, 8% of people tested for the coronavirus had been showing positive results. But in the past seven days, that proportion has risen to 13%, said Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of UAB’s Division of Infectious Diseases. Seattle, once a hotspot, is now down to 1.5%, she added.

Today, UAB has 68 COVID-19 patients, which Marazzo said is the highest number ever.

Usually about half the UAB patients with COVID-19 are on ventilators. Read more.

Social Distancing Versus Social Statement: Doctors Worry Protests Could Spread Coronavirus but Say Racism is Deadly, Too

Social distancing has taken a backseat to social statements the past week as persons have assembled in large numbers to protest the death of George Floyd and to call for change.

But state health officials worry that the combination of crowds and the coronavirus could greatly amplify COVID-19 cases in Alabama and the U.S. They urge people to remain mindful of social distancing, hygiene and face covering recommendations as they assemble.

Dr. Karen Landers, assistant state health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said she and others in her department are deeply concerned and saddened about the death of George Floyd. And they say persons have the right to peaceful assembly to express their individual and collective opinions.

“But we do remain concerned when there’s a congregate group of any size for any reason, and social distancing measures are not taking place,” Landers said. “It concerns me as a physician to see people that are in large groups that aren’t taking any measures.” Read more.

UAB Doctor Calls Rise in COVID-19 Cases ‘Concerning,’ Urges Personal Responsibility to Stem the Spread

UAB epidemiologist Dr. Rachael Lee today said that Alabamians will have to exercise personal responsibility to keep the state’s increasing COVID-19 infections from overwhelming the health care system.

Lee said that the increasing number of positive cases is “concerning,” particularly as the state increasingly relaxes restrictions and as the number of tests administered remains steady. Alabama is one of several states being watched because the number of confirmed positive cases of the potentially deadly viral infection are going up.

Lee held UAB’s weekly coronavirus press conference the day after the largest single day increase in coronavirus cases in the state. She addressed a wide range of questions during the more than 45-minute-long press conference, dealing largely with the spike in cases, hospitals’ nearing capacity in some areas, how the coronavirus differs from the flu, remdesivir, the feared second wave and the ongoing need for personal protective measures. Read more.

Ivey Loosens Restrictions, Cites Balance Between Health, Economy

Gov. Kay Ivey has once again loosened restrictions on Alabama businesses, allowing the reopening of entertainment venues, child care facilities, student activities and educational institutions. Ivey’s “Amended Safer at Home” order, issued Thursday afternoon, will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.

At a press conference announcing the order, Ivey cited economic stressors, such as a spike in unemployment, as a reason for easing restrictions.

She added: “You’ve got to have a balance between looking after the people’s health and the economic health. There has to be a balance.”
Read more.

Alabama Hospitals Lost $739M in Revenue in March, April

Alabama hospitals lost about $739 million in revenue from mid-March to the end of April because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to data collected by the Alabama Hospital Association. 

The state’s 93 acute care hospitals had $101 million in COVID-related expenses, including personal protection equipment, in the seven-week period. 

“Obviously, that’s not sustainable,” Alabama Hospital Association President and CEO Dr. Don Williamson told Alabama Daily News. He previously served as Alabama’s state health officer.
Read more.