Huntsville Hospital CEO: Unvaccinated patients fill the ICU ‘impacting everyone in our community’


MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Huntsville and Madison County leaders gave an update on the state of COVID-19 in the county.

Hospitals across the state are at a tipping point according to the Alabama Hospital Association. Officials are calling the continued surge of COVID-19 inpatients ‘dire’. 

As of Tuesday, there are 249 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Madison County, with 57 of those patients in ICU and 34 on a ventilator. Those numbers have approximately doubled in the last month.

Huntsville Hospital CEO Jeff Samz confirmed that 90% of the inpatients in Madison County area hospitals with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.

“Another sobering statistic between our hospitals in Madison County and Crestwood, in the last two days we have had 15 people die of COVID in Madison County,” said Samz.

Samz explained that the hospital system is overfull, overworked, and understaffed due to people not being vaccinated.

“There are long waits in our ER, our ICUs are full. ICU units that are designed for one patient have two patients in them, that’s because of COVID. If you come to us and need an ICU room today, and you’re not COVID, you’re going to wait because some people chose to not get vaccinated and they are sitting in our ICU taking up a bed. Our staff are exhausted mentally and physically. We are probably short 500 nurses right now to meet the demands,” said Samz. “There are long ER waits, there are slower EMS response times, ICU patients on regular nursing floors. The individual choices people are making not to get vaccinated are impacting everyone in our community.”

Samz stressed that his remarks weren’t political, and reminded people it’s their friends and neighbors from the hospital asking for help, as they take care of their hospitalized friends and neighbors.

An unusual guest during today’s briefing, Craig Williams the spokesperson for Huntsville City Schools took the mic to break down the current COVID numbers and plans for the entire system.

Huntsville City Schools said it’s actively keeping track of cases in the district, however, there seems to be no set formula to decide when a school needs to move into remote learning.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of COVID there is no magic number there is no magic percentage and which could put us in a COVID-19 remote learning scenario,” Williams said.

He also said that change is considered differently for each school, “Every student is different, every campus is different, every school is different.”

Williams said he’s heard rumors the entire district would go into the remote curriculum.

“Based on where we are today in terms of case numbers again we’re right around 250 out of 24,000 students. So I want to be very clear and make sure I set the record straight. Today, we are not making any plans to transition as a school district into remote learning that is simply not the case,” Williams explained.

He said remote learning is just a tool the system has access to by the transition must be warranted. Though again it remains unclear what warrants the change. The system has implemented health protocols in all of its campuses to promote a safe environment not only for students but for the families they go home to after the school bell rings.

Madison County leaders will hold their next weekly briefing on September 8.

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