Jackson Hospital seeing heaviest patient influx ever encountered, pulmonologist says

Jackson Hospital dealing with COVID-19 patient influx

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - COVID-19 cases in Montgomery have more than doubled since the beginning of May, landing the capital city on a national “locations to watch” list.

The spike in coronavirus cases is reflected upon the number of patients Dr. David Thrasher, Director of Respiratory Therapy at Jackson Hospital, is treating.

Thrasher said he has been a Pulmonary Critical Care Physician at Jackson Hospital for 37 years and that the weekend of May 15 through May 17 was by far the heaviest number of patients that they have had.

"Our normal census in May would probably be 70-80 patients on average. Doctor Lorino and I rounded on 140 patients each day this weekend,” Thrasher said. “119 of those were COVID patients and 35 this weekend were on ventilators.”

Thrasher said the virus has mutated, and experts say they think it has come back more contagious. However, they are not sure if it has come back more deadly.

“The virus has mutated. It’s supposedly more contagious, we do not know if it’s more lethal. The same thing happened in 1918,” Thrasher said. “As the boys came back from the World War I in France the virus [The Spanish Flu] mutated and the second wave in 1918 was much more vigilant. We don’t know if it’s going to be the case with this or not yet.”

“Same thing happened in 1918," Thrasher said. “As the boys came back from the World War I in France the virus [The Spanish Flu] mutated and the second wave in 1918 was much more vigilant. We don’t know if it’s going to be the case with this or not yet.”

He said he hopes the United States can get a hold of the virus this summer so hospitals are not even more overwhelmed this fall and winter come flu season.

“We’re hoping it’s going to slow down this summer,” said Thrasher. “The seasonal flu always slows down really about now in May. Now the coronavirus, COVID-19, is flourishing in some hot areas right now so we hope it will slow down this summer but only time will tell with that.”

Thrasher said people need to continue to take this virus seriously. Numbers are showing that COVID-19 is much more deadly than the seasonal flu.

“The seasonal flu’s mortality is 0.1 percent. Today’s mortality on confirmed cases is six percent in the United States and 4 percent in Alabama,” Thrasher said.

This makes the COVID-19 mortality rate 40-60 times more than the seasonal flu.

“When it’s all said and done and a vaccine occurs and we are all vaccinated, or the virus burns out, I predict the overall mortality will be like 1.3 to 2 percent. That’s what the experts are saying. But that’s a lot of death," Thrasher said.

According to Thrasher, this would make COVID-19 10-20 times more lethal.

He said his biggest concern right now is the health and safety of the medical personnel in our hospitals, as well as people not taking the virus seriously.

“The biggest concern is the wonderful nurses, respiratory therapists, and cleaning people that take care of these people. There have been 80 nurses last I heard that have died of COVID-19. That is a huge concern,” Thrasher said. “My other concern is people don’t take this serious. We’ve got to open up the economy, I am all for that, but they have to do it wisely."

Thrasher said without a vaccine by fall of this year we are in for a difficult flu season. He said it typically takes about eight years to develop a vaccine for a novel virus , but he along with other experts, hope that it will take just 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine.

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