CRMC: COVID on the rise, mostly among the unvaccinated

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(Photo courtesy of CRMC)

CULLMAN, Ala. – As Alabama sees a new surge in COVID cases, especially due to the Delta variant, Cullman Regional Medical Center runs close to state averages on its statistics. A major culprit, beyond the virus itself, is a lack of vaccinations; only a few current patients are fully vaccinated.

As of Tuesday afternoon, CRMC had 72 hospitalized COVID patients, with 14 of those on ventilators. The hospital’s Critical Care Unit is operating at approximately 200% of its intended capacity. Of those hospitalized, 12% are fully vaccinated “breakthrough” cases. Over 85% of hospitalized patients have received no vaccine at all.

According to CRMC Chief Medical Officer William E. Smith, Jr., MD, FACS, the numbers are still rising.

The surge, renewing last year’s burdens on the healthcare industry, are taking their toll on medical workers. 

At CRMC, said Smith, “Overall the staff is holding up fairly well; they are professionals, but nonetheless, they are very tired. This COVID surge is particularly disheartening, given the young people severely ill and on ventilators. In fact, we have had several patients in their 20’s and 30’s on ventilators. Virtually all of these ventilator patients are not vaccinated.”

The state of Alabama, as of Tuesday, had seen 699,729 cases, with 310,863 of those in 2021, and 12,283 deaths. Currently, only one county, Sumter, is not considered an area of high transmission. In Cullman County, of 2,299 COVID tests performed in the last week, 370 (16.1%) returned positive. The county has seen a total of 219 COVID-related deaths.

The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends continued social distancing, mask usage and hygiene procedures. It also recommends vaccination, and even additional booster doses for those with weakened immune systems.

For those who have recently tested positive, the ADPH suggests Monoclonal Antibody Therapy, about which it says, “If given early to higher risk people, monoclonal antibody treatment has shown to reduce the amount of coronavirus in your body lessening symptoms and the likelihood you would need to be hospitalized. If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact to a positive case, call your healthcare provider immediately to ask about treatment. Treatment must be provided within 10 days of exposure, symptom onset or within 10 days of date tested if positive and asymptomatic.”

For more information on COVID in Alabama, visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/.

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