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'We've seen people who are perfectly healthy die in our hospital' | Huntsville Hospital president on rapidly increasing COVID-19 numbers

WZDX spoke with Tracy Doughty, president and COO of the hospital and he was able to answer questions about the current landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — COVID-19 numbers in Alabama are rapidly increasing as of July 22.

WZDX's Nixon Norman sat down with Huntsville Hospital President and COO Tracy Doughty to get answers to questions about COVID-19 in Alabama.

Q: Tell us more about what you're seeing at Huntsville Hospital right now when it comes to COVID cases.

A: "We've seen people who are perfectly healthy die in our hospital. We've seen people who are perfectly healthy get sick and still have memory issues or fogginess after they recover. We've seen clinicians who've gotten sick and still have issues to this day. Granted more times than not, you have to have underlying conditions and those things that get really sick, but we definitely see people who are by any stretch of the imagination, healthy - get really sick and have issues, go on the ventilator, have all sorts of issues. I can say that, you know, across the country, if you look - 99, I verified this, 99% of the people who are in the hospital are unvaccinated across the country."

RELATED: Unvaccinated staff eyed in rising nursing home COVID cases, deaths

Q: We all have friends and family that are resistant to getting the vaccine - I know I do, I know most people do, you know, and these are people you care about. So, what would you - being in the medical community, tell these friends and family of yours that may be hesitant to get vaccinated? 

A: "The vaccines are safe. All three are safe - Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, are all safe. I wouldn't shop around for a vaccine, I would get what was first available, but they're all three available in our community, in North Alabama, and specifically Madison County, so they can get the vaccine that they want. They should look at reputable sites and get the information and not from social media or far-leaning left or right media; talk to the physician about it, talk to the clinician or call the hospital. We're open to doing Zoom meetings with any groups in the community that want to talk about vaccines. We can get physicians or myself or anybody to talk to groups, send them information, we don't mind a bit. We think it's very important to get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves but their family and ultimately the community."

RELATED: Alabama NAACP hosts free vaccine clinic at Mommy and Me Scholarship Brunch

Q: Do you think, because you had mentioned you and your wife wear masks sometimes when you guys feel it's appropriate or you feel like you need to. Do you think that's something that we all should maybe be doing again? Do you think there will be a resurgence of the mask-wearing? 

A: "I don't think there'll personally be a government mandate for mask-wearing in our area, but I encourage people that if they feel the need to wear a mask - don't be ashamed or don't feel like people are looking at you, don't feel any way like that. Sometimes I'm out about and a lot of people out or around people, not sure if they're vaccinated or not I'll put my mask on. I don't think that's an issue in our community. I haven't seen people, you know, be ostracized for it so I would encourage people to do that if they feel the need. It's their choice to do so or not, but I would encourage it if they feel the need."

RELATED: Huntsville Hospital sees spike in COVID hospitalizations