Huntsville Hospital CEO discusses impact of coronavirus, flu season on local hospitals

Cases are up and a spike is expected by the end of winter.

Posted: Nov 4, 2020 6:53 PM
Updated: Nov 4, 2020 7:44 PM

In the past 24 hours, Alabama added about 1,500 new coronavirus cases.

That brings our state total to just over 168,000 since the pandemic started.

As we move into the winter months, local health officials are urging you to get a flu shot now as coronavirus continues to spread.

WAAY 31 learned the CEO of Huntsville Hospital says they're starting to see the impacts of flu season already.

CEO David Spillers says the number of coronavirus cases in the hospital system are going up, but he doesn't consider it a spike right now.

However, he says there are more non-coronavirus patients in the hospital and that it's putting more stress on hospitals and health care workers.

"I want to encourage everyone to get a flu shot. We're not seeing a lot of flu, but we're seeing enough flu that it's creating a problem. When someone presents with the flu, we assume they have COVID until we determine that they don't have COVID, and we have seen cases where people have both COVID and the flu. Rare, but it has happened," said Spillers.

Spillers says the number of hospitalizations across North Alabama is up right now.

Systemwide, there are 161 coronavirus inpatients. That's 22 more than 2 weeks ago, and 45 of those are in the ICU and 20 are on ventilators.

Spillers says even though there were more coronavirus patients over the summer, the rising number of flu patients is making it harder to manage a busy hospital now, since the viruses have similar symptoms.

"When we had about 50% more than we have today in the hospital back in August, it was very difficult, and we didn't have nearly as many non-COVID patients as we have today," he said.

That's why now, he's pushing for people to get the flu shot to protect themselves from at least one virus, along with following the public health basics.

"Please separate, sanitize and be careful of gatherings," he said.

Spillers mentioned he believes we could see another spike in cases before the winter ends, but he said the number of cases may be different than what we saw over the summer.

Spillers says hospitals are generally always busier this time of year because of upper respiratory infections like the flu.

But now, with coronavirus spreading, the goal is to prevent people from getting sick in the first place.

He said that's going to be especially important as we go into the holiday season, when large indoors gatherings can lead to more infections, and hospitals are already packed.

"If you come to the emergency room at probably any of the hospitals in North Alabama right now, you could run into situations where they're backed up and it takes longer than usual because we're having to work to push patients through the system and to create beds to take care of everyone," he said.

We do know the hospital system is taking some steps to expand its capacity. The Decatur Parkway Clinic is set to open in late November and will add 36 more beds, 12 of which are ICU beds.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 443009

Reported Deaths: 6662
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson649101007
Mobile31746574
Madison28413217
Tuscaloosa21566275
Montgomery20088332
Shelby19452132
Baldwin17333189
Lee13261107
Morgan12678142
Etowah12141181
Calhoun11555206
Marshall10487123
Houston9031164
Limestone838181
Cullman8296124
Elmore8243110
Lauderdale7946107
DeKalb7900107
St. Clair7876130
Talladega6523112
Walker6050183
Jackson603245
Colbert558194
Blount548586
Autauga540762
Coffee466964
Dale412785
Franklin377550
Russell358415
Chilton346873
Covington340880
Escambia339244
Tallapoosa3163109
Dallas313696
Chambers305470
Clarke303336
Pike265231
Lawrence255855
Marion254661
Winston234742
Bibb222948
Geneva213047
Marengo210531
Pickens200431
Hale186144
Barbour183438
Fayette178829
Butler174860
Cherokee166031
Henry160025
Monroe152621
Randolph146636
Washington142727
Clay130746
Crenshaw124845
Macon122837
Cleburne122125
Lamar120622
Lowndes116836
Wilcox108322
Bullock104628
Perry100518
Conecuh98022
Sumter90627
Greene77923
Coosa64018
Choctaw52124
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 710427

Reported Deaths: 8970
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby790251186
Davidson73248697
Knox40335452
Hamilton35983347
Rutherford34271298
Unassigned23946140
Williamson22259150
Sumner18862237
Out of TN1644883
Montgomery15200153
Wilson14878167
Sullivan13002221
Blount12382136
Washington12206206
Maury11337131
Bradley11263101
Sevier10877123
Putnam10200152
Madison9364186
Robertson793088
Hamblen7261119
Anderson7031116
Greene6779117
Tipton639571
Coffee578584
Gibson5767117
Dickson559082
Cumberland556777
Bedford546092
Roane536083
McMinn524674
Lawrence524369
Carter5215121
Warren511656
Loudon510352
Jefferson497078
Dyer487487
Monroe471964
Hawkins461473
Franklin426067
Fayette415953
Obion406683
Rhea391858
Lincoln388347
Cocke359063
Marshall358140
Cheatham350332
Weakley345948
Campbell338742
Henderson338659
Giles334476
Carroll318362
White317749
Hardeman315854
Hardin306650
Lauderdale299934
Macon294751
Wayne270325
Henry269960
Overton260546
McNairy249042
DeKalb247443
Haywood245650
Marion236233
Smith235430
Trousdale230617
Scott230432
Claiborne230033
Hickman229836
Fentress217835
Grainger217240
Johnson205335
Morgan196616
Crockett183738
Chester179039
Bledsoe178211
Unicoi170147
Cannon161721
Lake158522
Polk150517
Decatur149027
Union145725
Grundy143622
Sequatchie142120
Humphreys137717
Benton134135
Lewis131121
Meigs119216
Stewart112220
Jackson106624
Clay96526
Perry96325
Houston95226
Moore8319
Pickett69220
Van Buren6758
Hancock4227

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