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.