From The Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — As coronavirus cases continue to increase across the nation, Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson said some holiday gatherings may need to be canceled or conducted virtually.
Wilson told WBRC-TV that local hospitals have seen a significant increase in patients since early October.
“We had about 170 hospitalizations then we’re up to about 270 as of yesterday [Nov. 18] and that changes a lot from day to day,” Wilson said. “But our capacity of COVID-19 beds has been less than 20% on and off this past week. So, we have capacity but it’s quickly approaching not having capacity.”
Hospital leaders are growing in concern with an increase in hospital staff getting sick and a nurse shortage, according to Wilson.
“It is time to take this really, really seriously, Wilson added. “More than ever before in this pandemic.”
“Unfortunately, this is just not a good time to be having gatherings,” Wilson said. “With people that are not in your own household already. So, that means not having people over in your extended family or friends.”
If you do invite people into your home, Wilson recommends you wear a mask, social distance and do not eat inside, if possible.
“I’m afraid for most of us this Thanksgiving, we are just going to need to cancel our plans because it’s just too dangerous,” said Wilson.
Wilson said some more precautions to take include quarantining yourself before a gathering and getting tested ahead of Thanksgiving.
According to a study by Georgia Tech, if you gather with 10 people in Jefferson County, there is a one-in-five chance that one of those people has COVID-19. For a gathering of 15 people or more, there is a one-in-four chance that one of those people has COVID-19.