In Montgomery on Wednesday, the mayor outlined a stark reality for those who may need to go to the hospital due to the coronavirus.
"Right now, if you're from Montgomery and you need an ICU bed, you're in trouble. If you're from central Alabama and you need an ICU bed, you may not be able to get one because our health care system has been maxed out," said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed.
Some of their patients had to be transported to the Birmingham area for treatment due to a lack of bed space in Montgomery.
But despite that challenge in the center of the state, in the northwest, hospital officials said they're not seeing the same kind of hardship.
"Are we there yet? No. But as you mentioned, there is a point of, if the infections continue to escalate, that that will become a concern," said Kyle Buchanan, the president of Helen Keller Hospital.
Buchanan said a couple of months ago, near the start of the outbreak in Alabama, the hospital worked to expand the number of beds that could house coronavirus patients from around 12 to about 40.
He said the number at the hospital at any given time has fluctuated. It's highest total at one time was 18 positive patients.
"We hit that number about four weeks ago and then saw a dramatic decrease in volume and as of about 10-12 days ago, we saw that begin to pick back up again to a point where we are hovering around 12 today and anticipate that to go up," said Buchanan.
As of 10 p.m. Wednesday night, the Shoals (Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties) had a total of 626 confirmed cases since the outbreak began. On May 1, that total was only 161 cases. Buchanan said it's important to watch that trend closely.
"If we continue to see three- or four-fold increases, we will come to a point where we have to make some of those tough decisions and think about our resources and make sure we've got what we need to take care of our patients," said Buchanan.
Dr. Karen Landers with the Alabama Department of Public Health said it's crucial for all hospitals to keep a close eye on the number of cases in their nearby counties.
"As we reopen, we continue to carefully monitor our numbers so that hospitals can maintain capacity and be able to treat the patients as they come into the hospital," said Dr. Landers.
While places like Marshall County and Franklin County have seen a notable increase in cases in recent weeks, experts said right now, it's too early to determine with certainty exactly how reopening has impacted the case total.
"We absolutely want to support our local businesses, we absolutely want to get back to work as much as possible, we just want to make sure we're safe in how we're doing it, such that we never get to the point where we have a situation in which our local hospitals are overrun with patients," said Buchanan.