BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Health experts are using data from around the world to take a look at what the future might hold in the coronavirus pandemic. Availability of hospital beds is one of their biggest concerns.

ProPublica put together a graphic to show the impact the virus will have on availability of hospital beds based on the number of people who contract the virus over certain periods of time.

The Imperial College of London also took at look at various safety measures and the impact they could have on the availability of critical care hospital beds.

Meanwhile, officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health are looking at the health orders they recently put in place. The orders limit the size of gatherings and ban in-house dining at restaurants. They also forced the closure of beaches and schools. State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris indicated it’s possible those orders could be extended beyond their original end date of April 5.

“We’ll evaluate each one of those orders before that time and give guidance to the Governor and discuss with other folks and try to get input before we make a decision on whether to continue that,” Harris said. “I would say Alabamians ought to be prepared that that might happen, that it might be extended. But at this time I think it’s too early to say.”

Harris also has seen some encouraging data from other countries. He and other health experts hope people who contract the disease might be able to develop immunity.

“Eighty-five percent, in some cases, of people who get infected do not have serious illness, and they tend to recover within a few days and probably have some degree of immunity, although we don’t know at this time if they have any long-lasting immunity,” Harris said. “But they may have at least short-term immunity. We can hope that it will be longer.”

Harris said he’s in discussions with state education leaders about the school closures and whether those need to be extended.

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