DECATUR, Ala. — Cases across the country and the Tennessee Valley are exploding. The good news is, a new "COVID unit" is open for patients at Decatur-Morgan Hospital.
"One month ago we had 3,968 cases. Today we have 6,182 cases," says Alabama Department of Public Health Northern District Administrator, Judy Smith.
Morgan County leaders reports a more than two-thousand case increase over a month's time. "Morgan County per capita, is leading the state in positive cases," says City of Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling.
Decatur-Morgan Hospital officials also see a climb. "We have fifty inpatients which is an all-time high," says Decatur-Morgan Hospital President & CEO, Kelli Powers.
The hospital has six patients in the ICU, one of those on a ventilator. Leaders say some patients do not respond well to treatment.
"I would say next week, we'll probably double what we have in the ICU because of the inpatients," says Powers.
County leaders say they expect a vaccine will be available in mid December. "It will probably go to first responders and certainly to our hospitals," says Smith.
Decatur-Morgan Hospital opened its new COVID Unit at the Parkway Campus with 15 beds. They hope this unit will increase the number of beds to 36.
The Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce encourages support of small businesses but do it safely.
"Ordering on the phone by curbside pick up, by takeout food by all the ways we've talked about for the last several months," says Decatur-Morgan Co. Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, John Seymour.
In efforts to flatten the curve the chamber received 100 boxes filled with twenty-five washable masks from a local business.
"The first hundred businesses, small businesses in our community that contact the chamber; we'll give them a box of these for their employers to use," says Seymour.
Leaders remind people that if you do travel for Thanksgiving to mask, distance, and sanitize.
"Please take your mask, your social distancing. How do you social distance? You sit in the back seat and tell your husband how to drive and sanitize. You do what you have to do," says Smith.