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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Healthcare workers are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic each and every day. Dr. Monica Williams is one of those people, working in Huntsville and Madison Hospitals as an Emergency Physician and a Medical Director for Advanced Care Planning.

“Each day, I take care of a patient who’s positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Williams.

She says in Huntsville and Madison Hospitals, they have isolated a series of rooms where they see people with respiratory complaints or people being evaluated for the virus. She says they only go in the rooms with layers of protection.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, Madison County has 278 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with over 11,000 tested, and four who have died.

Dr. Williams says compared to other areas around the nation, COVID-19 numbers in Madison County are relatively low.

“I really think that’s because we’ve done a great job protecting ourselves during our shutdown era, really staying inside and using hygiene measures and social distancing,” she added.

Even so, the doctor is seeing a lot of patients with respiratory illnesses, coronavirus or not.

“I feel like I’ve seen more patients with respiratory illnesses than I do this time of the year normally,” said Dr. Williams. “Certainly a couple weeks ago, our entire emergency department census seemed like it was respiratory patients.”

She adds there has been a reduction in trauma, stroke, and heart attack patients, but believes it has to do with the fear surrounding hospitals right now.

“In the hospital, we help protect you as well,” she said. “We require that you wear a mask for your protection, and depending on what area of the emergency department you’re in, we are appropriately sanitizing and doing our hygiene and we’re doing our best to keep you safe so people should not be afraid.”

There is a harsh truth: “COVID-19 is here to stay,” said Dr. Williams. “Our hope is that it becomes like the flu, something we can prepare for and vaccinate for.”