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COVID cases continue to rise but Alabama’s ICUs are at full capacity

August 26, 2021, 7:50 PM UTC

Alabama now has more COVID-19 patients than ICU beds, as the state sees a rise in cases and struggles to raise its vaccination rate.

At 102% capacity, the highest ICU occupancy of the 50 states, there are more patients than can be accommodated in the 1,557 ICU beds statewide. This strain on intensive care units is also happening in other states with high levels of unvaccinated people. With only 46% of its adult population vaccinated, according to New York Times data, Alabama is struggling to find room for those affected by the contagious Delta variant, which hits the unvaccinated hardest.

Antipathy to COVID has taken hold in the Yellowhammer State. At a rally in Cullman, located 50 miles north of Birmingham, last Saturday, former President Donald Trump was booed for telling the crowd to get vaccinated.

The state is one of six in the country, along with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, that as of Aug. 24 had less than 10% of ICU beds available, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

ICU occupancy is 79.1% in the U.S. nationally, more than 10 percentage points higher than the 67% capacity in 2010.

States in the South and Southeast are leading the country in number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, and Alabama is no exception. With 70 cases per 100,000 people, the state is among the worst affected by COVID in the U.S.

The federal government is sending a team to assist a Southeast Alabama hospital, the state’s health officer said Wednesday. The hospital, Southeast Medical Center in Dothan, set a pandemic high for COVID patients in August.

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