EAMC sees doubling of COVID-19 patients in a week

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:51 PM EDT
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LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - East Alabama Medical Center and EAMC-Lanier have seen the number of COVID-19 patients they’re treating double in a week, according to hospital spokesman John Atkinson.

Last week, the two facilities had a combined 11 total hospitalizations over a five consecutive day period. Since Friday, though, the number has climbed daily to 23.

It’s a similar situation around the state where more than 500 are being treated, up from around 165 a month ago.

“The majority of our hospitalizations are people who have not been vaccinated,” Atkinson said.

And the Delta variant is making the fight more difficult. It’s more contagious and symptoms tend to be more severe, according to health officials.

“We are seeing a few ‘breakthrough cases’ where people who are vaccinated are having to be hospitalized,” Atkinson added.

[READ MORE: Rare ‘breakthrough’ COVID cases are causing alarm, confusion]

“The vaccine cannot completely eliminate the chance of someone being infected with COVID,” Atkinson said, “but it can decrease the risk of developing severe disease and decrease the odds of needing hospitalization.”

Despite vaccine doses being readily available, demand has dropped off considerably, especially in Alabama. With just 33 percent of the state’s population having been fully vaccinated, more than two-thirds of the state remains at heightened risk.

Ranked last in the nation for its low vaccination rate, the president of the Alabama Hospital Association likens the state’s suffering to being a self-inflicted wound.

Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 cases have tripled in the last two weeks.

Health officials continue to urge vaccination.

“Vaccination is still the best way to combat COVID-19 and we need those who are unvaccinated to seriously consider receiving the doses as soon as possible,” stressed Brooke Bailey, Infection Prevention director for East Alabama Health.

Bailey also stressed the need to take other steps previously used to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone, including those who are vaccinated, should be wearing a mask when they are unable to socially distance themselves, especially while indoors” Bailey said. “And we need people to seriously think about limiting their social interactions at this time as we are hearing about a lot of cases spread among family members and friends. We need to take this situation seriously so that it doesn’t spread exponentially.”

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