32 Children Hospitalized With COVID in Alabama, America's Least Vaccinated State

A doctor in Alabama has expressed alarm after an infant was among 32 children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state.

In a Facebook Live event hosted by the Medical Association of Alabama, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Children's of Alabama, Dr. David Kimberlin said the delta strain is "different and it is bad."

He added that "we are standing in a tunnel right now and the train is accelerating at us as we speak," Al.com reported.

"I was uncomfortable last year but I am scared right now for what lies in front of us with respect to our children," Kimberlin said.

At 34 percent, Alabama is the state with the joint lowest level of fully vaccinated people in the country, along with Mississippi.

With the rise in child COVID hospitalizations in his state, Kimberlin said that masks and vaccinations were the main ways to fight the virus, saying that although "facing a catastrophe... we have the tools to avoid that."

He has joined the chorus of Alabama public health officials recommending all students and teachers wear masks this school year.

However, Gov. Kay Ivey has insisted that while the state government recommends mask use in schools, there would be no state mandate for it.

Ivey's spokesperson, Gina Maiola, said that the governor had been left frustrated with "the changing goal post and whiplash" shown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Maiola also said the governor feels the "current circumstances do not warrant a blanket one size fits all approach," the Associated Press reported.

Maiola said "it is school officials who are in charge of making decisions that work best for their school."

Some Alabama school systems will require students and teachers to wear face masks indoors, including those in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Bessemer and Opelika, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Dr. Karen Landers, Alabama Department of Public Health's assistant state health officer, said she was worried about the potential to lose children to the virus.

"Every child's life is precious, and we don't want to lose any children in the state of Alabama to a disease that we can have so much impact in reducing or preventing," she told Al.com.

The CDC says that although most children with the disease have mild or no symptoms at all, some can get "severely ill" requiring hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator to help them breathe.

"In rare cases, they might die," the CDC guidelines state.

The spike in cases among the young comes as Alabama registered the highest COVID positivity rate in the country Monday at 18.5 percent, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Newsweek has contacted the Alabama governor's office for comment.

Covid jab
A nurse prepares the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on July 29, 2021 in Wilmington, California. A doctor in Alabama has expressed concern at a baby being hospitalized with COVID as cases among the young spike. Mario Tama/Getty