Abigail Harrison, News Editor
Ray Demonia from Cullman, Alabama died on September 1 because of the state’s shortage of ICU beds.
Mr. Demonia suffered a cardiac emergency but could not find proper medical treatment in Alabama because hospitals are filled with patients being treated for COVID-19. He had to travel 200 miles to an available hospital in Meridian, Mississippi after contacting 43 hospitals looking for an open bed.
Though Mr. Demonia took responsible precautions in fighting the pandemic by getting vaccinated, COVID-19 still played a role in his death. His case is one example of how Alabama is still struggling to manage the coronavirus.
The state has been facing a shortage of ICU beds since August. According to data from the Alabama Hospital Association, as of September 16 there are 1580 ICU patients but only 1569 staffed ICU beds. Almost half of these ICU patients are being treated for COVID-19, and unvaccinated individuals make up 84% of those admitted with the virus.
In addition to hospitals being at full capacity, there is also an allocation of the key monoclonal antibody treatment. The Alabama Department of Public Health confirmed there will be a 30% cut in the state’s monoclonal antibody supply as a result of the allocation by the federal government.
These issues have put additional stress on the already overwhelmed health care workers that are fighting to save lives and end the pandemic. The Alabama Hospital Association is actively working to find resources and staff members to help solve the shortages in hospitals throughout the state so a situation like Mr. Demonia’s never happens again.
Alabamians can help by only going to the hospital for true medical emergencies and by getting vaccinated to potentially save resources for COVID-19 patients. According to The Washington Post, Mr. Demonia’s family encourages everyone to get vaccinated in Ray’s honor.
Currently, Alabama has one of the lowest vaccination rates with 40.7% of the state’s population being fully vaccinated. Hopefully, the number of vaccinated citizens will rise as people continue to educate themselves on the virus and take use of the free vaccine resources offered at many pharmacies and stores.
More information on the vaccine and where to find the closest vaccine location can be found at this link.
In addition to the many local vaccine sites, there are also several opportunities for JSU students to get vaccinated. One upcoming opportunity is through KICK COVID, a statewide program that encourages students to get vaccinated on football game days.
Students who get vaccinated at the football game against UNA on September 18 will receive a 75$ gift card to be used at the JSU bookstore. There are also other incentives JSU students can claim after getting fully vaccinated. Information on the vaccine incentive program can be found at this link.