UAB doctor warns Alabama ‘is not in a good place’

Updated: Dec. 29, 2020 at 4:22 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB’s hospitalizations of COVID patients dropped Tuesday from the two day record high of 207 now down to 186.

A top UAB epidemiologist said Tuesday the hospital and the state of Alabama is seeing ”unenviable records.”

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo says Alabama is now ranked sixth in the nation per capita with growing positive coronavirus cases. She added the state ranks third in the nation per capita when it comes to hospitalizations.

Dr. Marrazzo said the hospital is still feeling the spike in cases stemming from the Thanksgiving holiday surge. The impact of Christmas and with New Year’s coming up, the number of positive cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise.

It’s not a crisis situation yet, but Dr. Marrazzo believed the coming surge could see a doubling of COVID patients up to 400. This could trigger the hospitals crisis plan which is already seeing more academic doctors being pressed into teams to treat patients. In a couple of weeks, they could be in a crisis situation.

“We have tried to be cautious in our language and not to be scary or sensationalistic, but the reality is it’s scary enough right now. We are doing OK, but it’s a possibility we won’t be OK in a couple of weeks,” Marrazzo said.

Dr. Marrazzo is asking people to wear their masks, continue social distancing, and not travel over the holiday weekend. She was alarmed that a million and a half travelled over Christmas, which was the high during the pandemic.

The rising rate of positive COVID patients is putting other needed medical care at risk at state hospitals.

Unfortunately, the higher the number of positive cases means more people going to the hospital and eventually more deaths. UAB and other hospitals have put off some elective procedures. The hospitals are continuing to meet the needs of COVID patients and those who need emergency care. Emergency rooms might be full and it could take time to get a room. But if in two weeks numbers double at UAB to around 400, more elective procedures could be lost and these procedures are not just cosmetic.

“So an example would be getting a central IV for access for chemotherapy for cancer patients. That is considered elective because it’s not an emergency. But do you want to have that put off for a week after getting a cancer diagnosis? No,” Marrazzo said.

Dr. Marrazzo is again asking people to be safe this week and for the next couple of months. Marrazzo said she does not have any tolerance for those who say a mask is not necessary. She says if you are not wearing a mask, you are going to be responsible for more deaths.

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