Madison County health leaders hope vaccines, new treatments could eventually combat rising COVID-19 hospital numbers

Coronavirus

MADISON COUNTY, Ala – 14,716 people have tested positive to date in Madison County. 144 have died. And the case count is rising.

“There is far more opportunity for it to impact you, your family and your workplace,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley.

Community spread is creating challenges for the area. More COVID-19 patients are being hospitalized than ever before. 30-50% of hospitalized patients across North Alabama are being treated for COVID-19. During the summer peak, there were about 1,500 COVID-19 inpatients statewide. Currently there around 2,000.

While Pam Hudson, Crestwood Hospital CEO, says hospitals have plenty of bed space, new problems are being created by a shortage of staff to handle the surge.

“The staff reduction is really why you’re hearing some hospitals have to pull back on inpatient non-urgent surgical procedures. We have beds, we have surgeons, but we don’t have the staff to take care of the patients post operatively,” she explained.

But she says two medical developments could help decrease hospitalizations.

Hudson says monoclonal antibody treatment for people with mild symptoms is proving to be very effective.

“The early evidence seems very reassuring that we’re able to stop progression of disease in people who otherwise would be at high risk. So hopefully we will begin to reduce the number of people who are going to get badly sick with it and might ordinarily needed the hospital,” Hudson said.

And area leaders expect the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine to be shipped to Huntsville Hospital next week.

“Huntsville Hospital will help take a leadership role in trying to get this out and this is not community wide vaccination. It’s prioritized for front line health care workers,” she stated.

But Hudson reminds people it could be months before it’s ready for the general public. As the community continues to revel in the holiday season Mayor Finley wants people to ask themselves a simple question as they consider participating in events:

“Is it a want or is it a need,” Finley stated.

Hudson and Finley stressed the COVID-19 basics. Until there is widespread immunity people need to continue to separate, sanitize and wear their masks.

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