Hospitalizations not rising as quickly as Covid cases

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:48 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Covid-19 community transmission is high in Jefferson County, reaching almost 40 percent on January 3, 2022.

UAB has 105 people hospitalized with COVID as of January 3, and 28 are in the ICU.

“They are increasing,” UAB Health System Vice President of Clinical Support Services Dr. Sarah Nafziger said. “But, not as quickly. The thing that is different about this surge, while cases in the community are absolutely skyrocketing, our hospitalizations, while they are increasing, they are not skyrocketing at the same pace as we have seen with other surges.”

Nafziger said the slow increase is because this variant is causing less severe illness.

“Most of the cases that we are seeing, people are not as ill with this variant,” she said.

Because Omicron is more infectious, Nafziger said the community cases will continue to increase and they are expecting more hospitalizations. She said that will cause strain.

“The number of patients we have hospitalized with Covid are putting a strain on our resources,” Nafziger said. “The number of patients being hospitalized with Covid is continuing to climb and we don’t know when that is going to peak or plateau, so that could become more and more of an issue as we move forward.”

While this wont be the first Covid surge doctors at UAB have seen, Nafziger said this surge is different.

“The thing that is different for us with this surge is the Omicron strain is really putting a strain on our staffing,” she said. “We are having a lot of staff who are testing positive.”

She said they are also seeing more people test positive who didn’t realize they had it.

“We have a lot of patients who are being admitted for other things, who also happen to have Covid and have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.”

While hospitalizations may not be as high as with Delta, Nafziger said that can quickly change.

“We are watching it very closely,” she said.

Dr. Nafziger said most of the Omicron patients are seeing symptoms similar to a head cold versus a chest cold like with Delta. She said it is hard to tell the difference between Omicron and a common cold, so she suggests getting a Covid test as soon as you experience any symptoms.


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