Alabama Hospital Association chief takes a look at the latest COVID-19 trend

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – As the BA.5 COVID-19 variant sweeps across the Southeast, more Alabamians are becoming infected.

“I’m more concerned, in the short term at least, about how the spread of BA.5 is disrupting normal society, less concerned about its immediate impact on the healthcare system,” said Dr. Don Williamson of Alabama. Hospital Association.

Williamson admitted that if levels of community transmission continue to rise, we are likely to see more hospitalizations.

Although he explained that vaccinations and previous infections do not prevent people from being infected with BA.5, they reduce the risk of hospitalization.

“We’re clearly not seeing the kind of spike in hospitalizations that we would have expected if this were the early omicron variant or the delta variant,” Williamson said.

It reports that 622 Alabamians are in hospital with COVID-19. This includes 92 people in intensive care units and 38 people on ventilators.

A recent challenge for some hospitals has been staffing. Williamson explained that fewer medical professionals are working now than during the omicron and delta peaks.

“We could have a lot more difficulty managing 1,500 people in hospital now, compared to what we were dealing with earlier in the year,” he said.

The doctor said at least 20% of medical professionals have left the workforce. Much of this staff has been replaced by traveling nurses, which has been difficult to maintain.

“So what the hospitals are trying to do now is, as much as they can, they’ve hired some of that staff,” he said.

In many cases, he said hospital beds were closed to make do with available staff.

In addition to staffing shortages, Williamson said some health care workers who have already been vaccinated or who have already contracted the disease are contracting COVID-19.

Once again, he said getting vaccinated and boosted is one of the best ways to stay out of the hospital.

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