Limestone County officials issued a reminder that it's imperative to remain vigilant with coronavirus precautions as the holidays near during an update in Athens Thursday.
As of Thursday, there are 13 coronavirus positive patients at Athens-Limestone Hospital, with four in the intensive care unit.
For more than a month, the number of coronavirus patients at the hospital has been hovering in the double digits. Now, with Halloween near and Thanksgiving approaching, officials say wearing a mask remains the best thing we can all do.
“Mask, mask, mask,”Dr. Nauman Qureshi of Athens-Limestone Hospital said. “That's the most important thing.”
Athens-Limestone is part of the Huntsville Hospital System, where data shows there have been at least 10 covid positive inpatients every day since Sept. 18.
Qureshi said, despite the increase in cases, the percentage of very sick patients is decreasing.
“People who need ventilators, people who need high flow oxygen, people who are having organ failure -- that number is down,” he said. “Hospitalization rate is not down.”
For Halloween and Thanksgiving, Qureshi did not have any specific recommendations outside the reinforcement of masking and social distancing -- but does remind everyone that these tools aren't just for use when around people you don't know.
“Family is family, but still, you cannot predict who is carrying the virus,” he said. “And I think it's that fear of strangers, where as actually it should be universal precautions, wear it all the time.”
While some still oppose the masking, Qureshi called it a civic duty and nothing people should have a cavalier attitude toward.
"‘Oh yeah, I'm Superman, I'll be able to deal with this.’ That attitude has to go away, the macho attitude has to go away,” he explained.
Qureshi says even he plans to have his family wear masks when they visit for Thanksgiving.
He recommends people eat quickly if around others and then mask up when finished.
“Gobble it down and then put the mask on again,” he said.