MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — As Election Day approaches, Huntsville-area health officials say COVID-19 case numbers are up 50 percent compared to September.
Crestwood Medical Center CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state topped 1,000 this week, up from 700 a few weeks ago. In the region, she said there are 178 inpatients with COVID-19 and 32 ICU patients. In Madison County, Hudson said there are 90 inpatients, 24 ICU patients and 11 patients on ventilators.
“Next week, I hope everyone will excercise their citizen’s right and duty to vote,” Hudson said. “I have one real suggestion, different from the masking and the social distancing, sanitization. And that is be patient. If it’s crowded, wait. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to wait until the line goes lower or if you see people not being compliant, wait in your car and then go in.”
Hudson said the timing of the surge matches up with increased travel and gatherings in early October. She said COVID-19 patients who don’t immediately get well, tend to get sicker around day seven. Hudson said hospitalizations trail the infection by seven to 10 days.
Hudson said the difference with the current surge is that hospitals are busier this time of year due to the flu and other cardiac and respiratory challenges. She reminded the public to get vaccinated to help reduce the number of people that contract the flu and also reduce the number of hospitalizations.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said with schools and churches meeting in person and the expiration of the alcohol sales curfew, city officials knew there would be a possible surge. He said residents need to continue to follow safety guidelines.
“It’s not an easy thing to get through,” Battle said. “This virus is hanging on like a rusty fish hook. I mean, it’s just hanging in there and it keeps coming back. Besides what we’re seeing from COVID-19, the hospitals would be busy even without COVID-19 right now, with the respiratory problems and other problems that you find in the hospital. We as a community have to protect ourselves.”
Hudson said recent studies indicate people who wear masks decrease their risk of contracting COVID-19 from a potential carrier by 40 percent.
Looking ahead to election day, Hudson said she hopes everyone exercises their civic duty to vote and she advised voters to be patient at the polls. Hudson suggested voters wear gloves when they go to vote.