An Alabama city reportedly declared a COVID-19 state of emergency ahead of President Donald Trump’s rally Saturday — sending first responders to the event to treat medical emergencies that could strain a local hospital dealing with a rise in admissions.
The Cullman Times reported the city council passed a resolution Thursday morning to declare a state of emergency due to the COVID threat.
The declaration lets the city provide additional personnel and equipment for the rally Saturday after it was requested by Cullman Regional Medical Center, the news outlet reported.
"We want to prevent as many non-COVID related things as possible, so our hospital can use its resources to focus on the pandemic and its variants," Luke Satterfield, a lawyer for the city, told the news outlet.
He added that the city would provide fire department Emergency Medical Technicians and police to handle some of the rally-related health issues — like dehydration — that may occur.
"We don’t want to put any extra strain on them," he said.
Satterfield told the news outlet that the city would also provide a large tent with a generator and air conditioning at the rally, which is hosted by the Alabama Republican Party, featuring Trump and other GOP speakers.
Cullman Regional chief operating officer Nesha Donaldson sent a letter to the city Wednesday asking for more support at the rally, citing the hospital’s overcrowding, bed shortages, labor shortages, and an increased strain on the local emergency medical services, the news outlet reported.
In the letter, Donaldson said the hospital will be providing medical support at the rally, but needs help from the city to be able to maintain better response times for COVID issues and allow for better staffing at the hospital.
According to the news outlet, the local hospital’s most recent COVID update Wednesday showed it was treating 56 COVID patients, 12 of whom were on ventilators.
The Alabama Hospital Association also announced Wednesday there were no available ICU beds in Alabama out of the 1,562 units in the state.
Satterfield said the city is pleased with the work hospital staffers are doing during the pandemic, and told the news outlet they are encouraging COVID-19 vaccines and continued precautions to prevent the virus spread.
"It’s real and we don’t want anything bad to happen to our folks," Satterfiled told the news outlet.
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