Crestwood CEO say schools facing changing COVID-19 landscape will have to be flexible

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Monday Huntsville-area COVID-19 briefing included a report that hospitalizations in Madison County and across Alabama continue to fall, with the total below 1,000 for the first time in weeks.

The percentage of people testing positive over the past two weeks is also falling and is now at 5 in Madison County and 8 percent statewide.

But the state’s risk indicator dashboard shows Madison County is back in the yellow category — which is moderate risk of spreading the virus.  It had been green — low risk — for several weeks.

While the hospital numbers, testing demand and percentage of positive tests are down, but that’s not the whole story.   

Crestwood Medical CEO Dr. Pam Hudson said Monday for the first time in weeks, the 3-day, 7-day and 14-day moving averages for cases in Madison County have stopped trending downward.

And Hudson said there are a number of challenges on the horizon.

“Well, I think our first challenge is Labor Day, and the beginning of football and the beginning of school,” she said. “All those three things are ways to make us forget our, to lose our focus on the masking and the distancing  and limiting the size of gatherings that might put you at risk.”

Madison County area school officials said they discussed reopening plans with health officials

“I’m pretty sure that (the Alabama Department of) Public Health was involved in conversations with the schools and certainly I think we have to recognize that is not something that we’re going to – one and done – decision,” Hudson said. “Because there are so many variables — the conditions in the community at any given time — you know, two weeks from now will be dependent on what happened today.”

The reopening decision came down two weeks into the Huntsville and Madison County school years and three weeks into the Madison City school year.  The systems initially pointed to up to nine weeks of virtual classrooms, while reserving the right to make changes.

“They have a very, very difficult job,” Hudson said. “And I expect them to change their minds. I would be very concerned if they didn’t have the flexibility to change their minds depending on what is the truth, at any given time.”

Along with COVID-19 concerns this year, the start of each school year generally brings an uptick in illnesses.

“As kids go back to school, that is when, in the health care community we typically see lots of adults get sick, because the kids comingled and brought home some special virus to share with their families.” Hudson said. “Flu season is looming, but the COVID-19 defenses may provide an assist.

“The public health strategies that help us contain the community spread of covid just happen to be the same ones that will help contain the community spread of influenza,” Hudson said.

The Huntsville-Madison County EMA reported today that Madison County now has 50 deaths attributed to COVID-19.  That’s an increase of 11 deaths in the past week.

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