Huntsville is on the national coronavirus watch list because of a spike in cases, and members of a national coronavirus response team are in town to see how they can help.
Emergency Management Agency Director Jeff Birdwell told a COVID-19 briefing that the city meets the federal definition of cities to watch: “locations with a greater than 10 percent week-to-week increase in cases, greater than or equal to 200 new cases, and greater than or equal to 100 new cases per 100,000 in the past week.”
Exact numbers are not available for the city, although Birdwell did report 2,901 cases in Madison County, 176 more than Tuesday. Three more deaths bring the total of fatalities to 12.
Today’s statewide pandemic news was the mask order by Gov. Kay Ivey, Crestwood Medical Center CEO Pam Hudson said. A mask order already existed in Madison County, but officials think the statewide order will keep bringing case levels down.
“In the last three days we have seen a flattening and maybe a slight reduction in the rate of increase of new cases,” Hudson said. “This is right about the time you would expect it as we began to become very serious about masking in our county.”
Scientists know the virus spreads after gatherings of more than 10 people and in places where people come within 6 feet of each other without masks, Hudson said. “Our local example is the spike of cases that started after the Memorial Day holiday,” she said.
There are 132 people hospitalized with COVID in Madison County, Hudson said, and that’s a sign of flattening. “Make no mistake, this is still a serious illness,” Hudson said. “It has about a 30 percent rate of hospitalized patients needing to be in the (Intensive Care Unit).” Patients on ventilators in the ICU are closer to 60 percent than 30 percent, Hudson said.
Fifteen percent people being tested in Madison County are positive, Hudson said. With hospitalizations staying flat, she said, that indicates people are masking. “The virus is certainly out in the community, but we’re not spreading at a rate that’s leading to a significant hospitalization increase.”
The national task force in town is the COVID 19 Response Assistance Field Team (CRAFT), Finley said. It met with local officials and asked, “How can we help you and what concerns do you have?”
“Generically, we talked about a lot of things,” Finley said. “Rapid testing. The consistency in messaging from a federal level that there may be instances that cause angst and pain to a lot of us. Testing and the supplies that are needed. Remdesivir, the fact that it’s making a difference but sometimes we’re concerned about the levels that are out there. Support of nursing homes.”
“Federal guidelines for schools,” Finely added. “There is no question right now that school districts talked about. The more guidance they receive and the more requirements and just consistency they had, the easier it would be to manage what they’re trying to manage.”
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