HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Huntsville-area COVID-19 team gave their weekly update in a live briefing.
Jeff Birdwell, Huntsville-Madison County EMA Director; Dr. Pam Hudson CEO of Crestwood Medical Center; and Scott Irwin, Manager of Community Development for the City of Huntsville were in attendance.
Huntsville-Madison County EMA Director Jeff Birdwell began the meeting with the latest COVID-19 case numbers in Madison County. Since the pandemic began there have been 804,977 positive cases in the state, with 51,301 cases in Madison County. 656 people have died from COVID-19 in the county up last week from 37.
Dr. Pam Hudson gave the COVID-19 hospitalization numbers for systems across the county. Hudson said there are currently 140 COVID-19 inpatients, with 39 people in ICU and 30 of those patients on a ventilator.
“That continues to be a concern but we are in a better spot than we were last week and the week before,” said Hudson. “This is a reduction in new cases over the last seven days of ten percent. Some good news there as community transition slowly begins to decline.”
Hudson did mention that the decline in hospitalized cases can be linked to an increase in deaths in the county. “There has been a modest decline in the percentage of the hospital patients that are in care because of COVID. Unfortunately, some of that decline is related to the increase in deaths. There were 16 deaths in the last seven days in our county.”
She says 90 percent of inpatients had not received the COVID-19 vaccine. At the briefing Wednesday she addressed vaccine boosters.
“The booster is then a next step in looking to the future, making sure that we do everything that we can to secure safety for the next year, lets say, and studies will be ongoing,” she explained.
Hudson says booster shots serve two purposes.
“Offsets that slight decrease of waning immunity in the 6-8 month time frame,” she stated. “The other reason to boost is that it prepares our population for the next surge.”
Manager of Community Development Scott Irwin brought up funds given to the City of Huntsville by the federal government to help with COVID-19 relief and response.
The U.S. Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) provides funding for rental and utility assistance to households that have been affected by the pandemic. The City of Huntsville received approximately $6.7 million in ERAP funds in January.
Since the ERAP funds began to be distributed in March, the city has given out just over $4.1 million, or 68%, of the funds to serve about 630 households in the community.
Irwin says that the city has met a threshold required by the Treasury Department that allowed them to apply for supplemental funds. The U.S Treasury granted the City of Huntsville an additional $4.7 million for the program.
The combined ERAP programs in Huntsville will be able to give out a total of $10.7 million in funds to families that need assistance.
Those funds can be used for financial assistance by tenants, landlords, and utility companies to cover past-due rent and utility payments. The program’s goal is to prevent housing instability and eviction.
The meeting is held each week on the first floor of the Chambers of City Hall.