EAMC bracing for possible Thanksgiving COVID-19 impact

EAMC bracing for possible Thanksgiving COVID-19 impact

OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - An infectious disease specialist at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) is calling what East Alabama is experiencing in terms of COVID-19, “the calm before the storm,” as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue rising across the state.

Officials said they anticipate that same upward trend hitting us here at home too.

“Certainly, we have our fingers crossed and we hope that’s not the case, but we’re just being realistic,” said John Atkinson, the PR and marketing specialist at EAMC.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 30 coronavirus patients hospitalized at EAMC. That’s down from 37 patients earlier in the week. That number is still lower than the peak number they saw back in July, when 62 patients were hospitalized with the virus. Atkinson doesn’t anticipate that number remaining at its current level.

“It just seems like with the holidays, it just seems like just a matter of time before our numbers are back up into the 40s and above,” Atkinson said.

Officials said they’ve tackled the obstacles of a COVID-19 surge before and handled those high numbers of hospitalizations, but it’s not something they’d like to face again.

“You can’t just add hospital beds,” Atkinson said. “And secondly, you just don’t have the staff.”

Hospital leaders said they know people are well aware of the ways to prevent the spread of the virus, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands, but those methods aren’t 100 percent effective individually.

They suggested thinking of it like swiss cheese. While following all four measures doesn’t guarantee you won’t get COVID-19, the more precautions, the better.

“The more layers we add on of precautions, the more likely we are to block that virus from getting through,” Atkinson said.

They said it also helps slow the spread of cases and hospitalizations.

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