'There is no room to put these bodies,' Alabama health official says as Covid-19 deaths climb
The rate of Covid-19 deaths has increased in 42 US states in the last week, according to new data, as the spread of the more virulent coronavirus Delta variant has upended a spring of reopenings and led to increasing concern headed into autumn.
In 14 states, Covid-19 deaths increased by more than 50% over the past week, while another 28 states saw an uptick of at least 10%, data from Johns Hopkins University on Friday shows.
In Alabama, one of the hardest-hit states in the latest surge, overall hospitalization numbers continue to climb, driving health officials to use mobile trailers to house bodies because Covid-19 deaths are soaring, state health officer Dr. Scott Harris said Friday.
The state activated two of its four refrigerated trailers for the first time since the pandemic began, Harris said, in Mobile and Baldwin counties this week.
"These are typically held in case of a mass casualty event for example, when a large number of bodies appear at one time. This is actually a situation that is happening in Alabama hospitals now," Harris said.
"We have enough people dying ... that there is no room to put these bodies," he added. "We are really in a crisis situation. ... I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to do this."
Alabama reported 50 Covid-19 related deaths Thursday and saw "double digit numbers of deaths" in the past two to three weeks, Harris said.
At least 5,571 Alabama children tested positive for Covid-19 last week, Harris said Friday, noting that officials aren't sure where the children contracted the virus. The state currently has a 23% Covid-19 positivity rate, among the highest in the nation, Harris said.
Alabama is seeing a surge in pediatric cases from last year, Harris explained. Of the 2,879 people hospitalized with Covid-19 on Thursday, 45 of them are children, with at least five of them on ventilators, Harris said.