Tuscaloosa hospitalizations rise ahead of anticipated holiday spike


Hannah Saad | @hannah_saad21

In March, medical professionals at DCH were at the ready with drive-thru testing kits.

DCH admitted 23 new COVID-19 patients on Dec. 4, exceeding its previous single-day record and bringing the current number of coronavirus hospitalizations to 112.

Friday’s results marked an 84% increase in COVID patient intake at DCH since Nov. 20 – a figure that mirrors a statewide spike in hospitalizations.  

One quarter of current COVID-19 patients are in the ICU and nine are on ventilators. ICU admissions have remained steady relative to increased hospitalizations. 

Cumulatively, about 1,500 inpatients who tested positive have been discharged. 277 inpatients who tested positive have died. 

“We are certainly in a new and different dynamic, and it’s a precarious time for the city,” Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said during his weekly COVID update. “We have to take action, especially from a public standpoint, to protect our healthcare system.”

Maddox issued an executive order to shut down bars earlier in the semester, but rescinded it on Sept. 29. No further restrictions have been imposed. 

Reflecting on the spikes that followed Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, Maddox said the city can expect a post-Thanksgiving increase in cases and hospitalizations. 

“One of the things that worries all of us is that [the current] trend really didn’t start with the holiday,” he said. “The numbers that we’re seeing [now] are pre-Thanksgiving.” 

In its most recent update two weeks ago, the UA System Dashboard reported a spike in positive tests. It listed 142 new positive test results among students, faculty and staff, which was about a 50% increase from the prior week. The two months before that boasted a relatively low and steady case count on campus. 

Updates were published to the dashboard weekly during the semester, but have not been updated in the two weeks since Nov. 20, the final day of on-campus instruction for the semester.

Since then, the University has offered weekday exposure, symptomatic and exit testing by appointment. About 2,000 students had participated in exit testing as of Nov. 19. 

Testing will be available by appointment at the East Campus Storm Shelter until Dec. 11. All testing the following week will be conducted at the Student Health Center.