West Alabama's largest healthcare provider is imploring residents to get vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus.

DCH Health System COO Paul Betz says that the healthcare provider is at a crossroads in its fight against COVID-19, as low vaccination rates within the area coupled with a nationwide nursing shortage has placed a tremendous strain on the system.

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Federal funding which paid for travel nurses in 2020 has ended, leaving DCH short-staffed while confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to climb.

"We need your help," Betz said in a Thursday morning press conference at DCH Regional Medical Center's remote vaccination clinic.

"As of 8 a.m. this morning, we were treating 65 inpatients within our system for COVID-19 within our system," Betz said.

The healthcare provider is reestablishing its additional COVID-19 units as more patients are admitted for treatment of the virus. Betz also said the provider is working to add additional Intensive Care Unit beds in anticipation of the continuing spike in hospital admissions.

"90 plus percent of our patients in the hospital for treatment of the virus are largely avoidable," said Betz. "These cases could be prevented by getting the vaccine."

DCH recently reversed plans to cancel its remote vaccination site in the laundry lot of DCH Regional Medical Center's laundry lot.

"Do your research and get the facts," Betz said as he outlined the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine."

"We need the community to get vaccinated," Betz said. "This vaccine is accessible. It's safe, and it's free."

DCH Health System is offering vaccination incentives to its employees as well as bonuses for RN and LPN hires.

Alabama COVID-19 Vaccine Breakdown (June 2021)

Each graphic shows how many people are vaccinated in all of Alabama's 67 counties, plus the percentage of vaccinated people versus that county's total population. This data was pulled from the Alabama Department of Public Health, county health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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