Huntsville Hospital CEO says COVID case numbers trending in right direction

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As Alabama crossed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, local health officials said numbers in Madison County are down substantially.

Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers said 167 people are currently hospitalized in the system’s hospital across the North Alabama region. That’s down 35 cases from last week. He added 60 people are in the ICU and 31 are on ventilators.

In Madison County, Spillers said 97 people are hospitalized, down 12 from last week. He said 31 are in the ICU and 22 are on ventilators. Crestwood has 12 inpatients, four in ICU, and two on ventilators.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley said over the past two days, Madison County has averaged 32 new cases, the smallest figure seen in many weeks. He said the number of Madison County residents under quarantine is also down sharply, with 1,376 residents quarantined.

“That’s the lowest we’ve seen in a long time,” Finley said, urging residents to continue to wear masks.

Spillers also reported reductions of inpatients outside of Madison County. He said Decatur-Morgan Hospital is down to 19 patients. Marshall Medical Center and Helen Keller Hospital are both down to 14.

“Positive news, things are trending in the right direction for our inpatients,” Spillers said. “We need that number to continue to fall. Ideally that number would be zero, but below 60 for the region would probably be a manageable number with about half of those here in Madison County. So we continue to hope they will trend down to the point we don’t have more than 30 in our Madison facilities and no more than 30 spread out throughout the region. And obviously, none of those concentrated in any one hospital.”

But Spillers said other hospitals have seen an increase. Athens-Limestone Hospital reportedly has 17 inpatients. Spillers said that’s a large number considering the hospital’s size.

Highlands Medical Center went up to five patients, Spillers said. Russelville Hospital has three patients and Lawrence Medical has one. He said Lincoln Health also has one.

Spillers said statewide hospitalizations are trending down. He said the seven-day average for people testing positive in the state is to 1,291 per day thanks to masking. He said that number peaked on July 15 at 1,851.

The demand for testing has gone down over the past four weeks, according to Spillers. He said he believes the number will again increase due to school testing. Spillers said he requested that the state separate the number of school tests from the overall number of people being tested. He said he anticipates the positive percentage of school tests will be small.

Spillers expressed concern about Labor Day. According to data, Spillers said there’s usually a spike in numbers two weeks after a holiday. He hopes people continue doing what they’re doing to slow the spread.

As the number of COVID-19 inpatients goes down, Spillers said he hopes to once again offer elective procedures to patients.

Spillers said 119 Huntsville Hospital employees are out due to COVID-19, down from 156. He said the decrease benefits the hospital system and helps with staffing.

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