City of Huntsville, Madison County gives COVID-19 update

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Wednesday, leaders in Madison County held a COVID-19 briefing to discuss the progress the area has made in fighting the virus.

Officials noted in hospitals throughout Madison County there are 43 COVID-19 in-patients, 14 of which are in the ICU. Nine of those are on ventilators.

They cite more than 133,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been given. That number represents 44% of the Madison County population over the age of 16 getting their first dose. Of that number, more than half are ages 55 and older.

35% of the community is fully vaccinated, but officials said those numbers need to be higher if we’re to put the virus in the rearview mirror.

“There’s plenty of vaccine in Madison County and across the state,” Huntsville Hospital’s VP of Operations Tracy Doughty said.

All three leaders at the briefing echoed the same concern; enough supply, but a decreased demand.

Doughty said community outreach is important to get more people vaccinated, announced that starting on May 19, there will be vaccinations at Downtown Rescue Mission for the homeless.

Huntsville-Madison County Emergency Management Agency’s Jeff Birdwell reminded the public that United Way is also offering free rides to vaccine clinics, and to call “211” for more information.

With another expansion on vaccine eligibility, Doughty said starting Friday, May 14 those ages 12 and older can get the Pfizer vaccine at the Jaycee Center in John Hunt Park.

They will need parental consent.

“Like wearing masks, at some point, it’s a personal choice. They have to do what’s best for their family. We would encourage it, but it’s the parent’s choice,” Doughty said.

The National Guard has been helping out with walk-in clinics throughout the Tennessee Valley all week. Birdwell said he wishes more people were taking advantage of the opportunity.

“Not a lot of numbers at these sites,” he said. “I think the thing people have to understand is, even though you’re not high-risk, every time an infection takes place, it has the chance to mutate.”

Doughty said last time he checked, about 200 people in the state had contracted COVID-19 variants.

With the state’s public health order expiring at the end of May, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said he’s hoping to reach 60% community vaccinations before then, even more by mid-summer.

“44% of people have gotten vaccinated, that 56% need to come in and get vaccinated. If they do, we’ll be looking at this in the rearview mirror and we’ll be done with it. Hopefully, we’ll be done with it by July 4,” Mayor Battle said.

For those without an appointment looking to go to a walk-in clinic, the next will be held on May 14, at the Robert “Bob” Harrison Senior Wellness and Advocacy Center from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

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