MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has set a new high for the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, although the total number of hospitalized coronavirus patients remains slightly below the winter peak.
The state on Sunday had 884 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, according to the Alabama Hospital Association, the highest number since the pandemic began. Dr. Don Williamson, the former state health officer who heads the organization, said the previous high was 848 in January, according to his numbers.
“I clearly think that is a record,” Williamson said of the latest figure.
The total number of the virus patients in state hospitals was 2,829 on Monday, still below the pandemic high-water mark of 3,087 set in January. “I’d love to think that we are not going to get to the 3,000 that we saw in January, but I don’t have a scientific reason to think we won’t,” Williamson said.
The number of virus patients requiring intensive care is a worrying sign, but the state is seeing some improvements in other areas, including vaccination rates.
While Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, the state moved out of last place to slightly ahead of Mississippi for the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 38.1% of Alabamians are fully vaccinated.
With older populations more likely to be vaccinated, state hospitals say they are seeing more younger patients with COVID-19 as the contagious delta variant sweeps across unvaccinated groups.
East Alabama Medical Center posted on social media about the age breakdown of ICU patients. Of the 25 COVID-19 patients in ICU at the hospital, 14 are under age 60. Of those 14, seven are in their fifties, four are in their forties and three are between the ages of 20 and 39. The hospital has 20 patients on ventilators, of which all but three are unvaccinated.