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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Alabama continues to see a decline in COVID-19 cases. Huntsville-area health officials say overall, things are looking up.

“If you look at our hospital system in North Alabama including Madison County, we have 192 hospitalized patients and COVID-19. Of those, there are 59 in the ICU and 30 on a ventilator,” said Tracy Doughty, Vice President of Operations at Huntsville Hospital.

In Madison County, Doughty said the numbers are even lower.

“If you look specifically at Madison County, we have 99 total patients that are hospitalized with COVID-19. This number peaked around 270 back in mid-January so we’re really happy to be under 100.”

The hope is that vaccines begin to lower those numbers even further. But Doughty said a vaccine is just one piece of the puzzle.

“The vaccines are just one leg of the stool,” he said. “The other leg is us using our common sense to do those things we’ve been doing. We think the people of Madison County are smart, and they know how to conduct themselves. So we hope to have a whole totally different summer this year.”

Now that there’s a downward trend of hospitalizations, Doughty said employee care has moved up on the hospital systems priority list.

“It’s been a long haul for a lot of our employees, and mental health is an issue that we strongly think about,” he said. “We’ve got several programs in the hospital that employees can interact with to take care of the mental health and fatigue so I want to take care of patients but also take care of our employees.”

He’s hopeful said programs help employees breathe easier and allow them to refresh a bit.

Vaccines remain an issue in the state. However, Huntsville Hospital reports it plans to administer 2000 shots Friday. This after a surprise allocation of 1000 additional vaccines per day this week.

That number will return to 500 first doses and 500 second doses come next Monday.