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Lieutenant governor criticizes state’s lack of preparation, response to COVID-19

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth speaks during a video message. (LT. GOV.'S OFFICE)

Alabama hasn’t done enough to prepare for the “tsunami” of COVID-19 patients that will hit state hospitals and are putting lives at risk, Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth told the members of Gov. Kay Ivey’s COVID-19 Response Team in a letter obtained by APR.

The letter, in which Ainsworth was highly critical of the state’s lackluster response to date, is the first from an elected Republican in Alabama and highlights numerous areas in which Ainsworth says the state has fallen short in preparing for the crisis. 

“A tsunami of hospital patients is likely to fall upon Alabama in the not too distant future, and it is my opinion that this task force and the state are not taking a realistic view of the numbers or adequately preparing for what awaits us,” Ainsworth said. “Every health specialist with whom I have spoken is anxious about surge capacity and has expressed doubts about our preparations.”

Ainsworth also breaks down the current numbers and using the growth rate already experienced, projects staggering numbers of coronavirus patients in Alabama. By May 1, he predicts, the state will have more than 245,000 cases and more than 30,000 people hospitalized with the virus. Nearly 6,400 people will require ICU beds, he predicts. 

“Assuming the May 1 projections shared above are correct, we will have double the number of hospitalizations than beds available in Alabama,” Ainsworth wrote. “Also, imagine what occurs if we have 6,382 ICU patients on May 1, with a statewide stockpile of only 1,344 ventilators.”

A report by the Harvard Global Health Institute predicted a similar surge in patients, which could have the potential of overwhelming the state’s hospitals. There are already more than 100 people hospitalized across the state, according to data gathered by APR.

Ainsworth conveys a number of suggestions, which he said he has received from speaking with health care professionals all over the state and in neighboring states. Among them are recruiting family doctors and their staffs to assist with patient surges and formulating plans for doubling or tripling the state’s hospital bed capacity. 

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“No one will ever fault us for being over-prepared for the worst-case scenario, but blame will be well deserved if we choose to wait for whatever comes and do nothing to prepare,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth Memo to State Task Force by Chip Brownlee on Scribd

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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