On Thursday, Helen Keller Hospital officials said right now, the hospital has 18 people hospitalized with coronavirus and while this is an uptick in cases, it isn't a spike and they're hoping it will stay that way.
Helen Keller Hospital President Kyle Buchanan said of those 18 people hospitalized, 8 are critical and three are on ventilators. Buchanan said people need to be extra safe with holidays coming up so these numbers don't increase.
"We have holidays coming up. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, colder weather, flu season, RSV season. So, there is an alignment of stars so to speak that we are concerned about," said Buchanan.
Buchanan and his staff have been battling coronavirus since it started. Now, they are preparing for what could be a tough winter.
"We have had some renovation projects that have occupied some of our rooms, particularly our peds unit. We're pushing to have that reopened so that our pediatric patients have adequate space. Our adult space is adequate as well for what we know will be a busy winter," said Buchanan.
Buchanan said the first big test will be Halloween.
"We've seen several communities across North Alabama experience spikes over the last week. We have been there at Keller. Although, we don't have what we could consider a spike today, we know all we need is about 24 to 48 hours for that to change," said Buchanan.
Buchanan said Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas won't be the same this year. His hospital has had several family members hospitalized at once with the virus.
"We don't encourage people to have big family gatherings, especially with no masks and inside, which typically happen that way. We encourage people to be creative. Find ways in which we can reconnect with family like we want to do in a safe way. The last thing you want, and we've had this situation, is to have two or three family members in the hospital with COVID due to some family gathering," said Buchanan.
Buchanan stressed the importance of wearing masks. He said since the mask order went into effect in July, it's been successful in helping slow the spread of the virus.