There were 10 patients with COVID-19 in DCH's Intensive Care Unit Friday, marking the first time in months that number hit double-digits.

According to a daily update released by the hospital, there were 31 people hospitalized with the virus Friday and 10 were in the ICU. Fewer than five patients were on ventilators or required use of a BiPAP device.

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Patients hospitalized with the virus have at DCH have tripled since Sunday, when only there were only 10 reported inpatient cases in the facility.

The grim milestones come as the highly contagious Delta variant of the novel coronavirus spreads quickly through the United States, and especially in Alabama, which lags behind the rest of the nation in vaccination rates.

Publicly available vaccination data shows less than 34 percent of the state's population is fully vaccinated -- the worst rate in the nation.

According to DCH's data, 558 patients who were COVID-positive have died in the hospital since the pandemic began last year. 315 were residents of Tuscaloosa County.

As its name implies, DCH is a regional medical center and admits patients from 10 counties, so the spike in new infections and serious cases is not necessarily limited to the Tuscaloosa area.

For more information on the Delta variant and vaccination rates in West Alabama, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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