In Alabama, where just 38% of residents are fully vaccinated, new COVID-19 infections are at their highest levels of the entire pandemic.

covid death
Workers move a body
| Credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Alabama is running out of space to hold deceased bodies as COVID-19 infections soar to the highest levels of the entire pandemic, a state health official said.

With cases topping 4,000 a day in the last month, more than even the winter surge before vaccines were readily available, Alabama had to activate two of their four refrigerated trailers to hold bodies for the first time since the start of the pandemic, state health officer Dr. Scott Harris told CNN.

"These are typically held in case of a mass casualty event for example, when a large number of bodies appear at one time," he explained. "This is actually a situation that is happening in Alabama hospitals now."

"We have enough people dying ... that there is no room to put these bodies," he continued. "We are really in a crisis situation. ... I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to do this."

The state is also frequently out of intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and on Aug. 18 the Alabama Hospital Association said they had "negative 29" ICU beds remaining, with more than two dozen people on emergency room waitlists. An average of 3,018 people per day are hospitalized in Alabama with COVID-19 as of Aug. 31, according to The New York Times.

Alabama is recording around 32 COVID-19 deaths a day, an increase of 28% over the last 14 days. Harris said that they've been seeing "double digit numbers of deaths" in the last few weeks.

Just 38% of Alabama residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Aug. 31. Health experts have emphasized that vaccination is the best protection against hospitalization and severe illness. All three of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S., from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, prevent hospitalization or death in more than 90% of cases.

Alabama is also seeing a major rise in pediatric COVID-19 cases, with at least 5,571 children testing positive in the last week, Harris said. On Thursday, 45 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 and at least 5 were on ventilators.

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