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'Rather than scare you, we want to encourage you': Madison County health officials encourage vaccination as hospitalizations, cases soar

The Delta variant of the virus is causing a surge in cases and hospitalizations in the Tennessee Valley.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The recent surge in COVID numbers due to the Delta variant prompted Huntsville and Madison County officials to resume their weekly COVID press conferences.

On Wednesday, officials urged people to get vaccinated as more children fill hospital beds. 

"It's a different demographic than it was a year ago," said Huntsville Hospital CEO Jeff Samz.

Samz says more people ages sixty-five years old and up are vaccinated. This now leaves younger and unvaccinated people vulnerable.

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"The youngest we have in the hospital is a baby. We have three children in the hospital with COVID," added Samz. 

He also reported five deaths in this week alone. 

"One of those patients is under age fifty, without comorbidities, unvaccinated, and died this week from COVID in our hospital," said Samz.

Samz added another staggering number,  91% of the patients with COVID system-wide are unvaccinated.

He says there's been a 7% increase in hospitalizations in 24 hours. In the last ten days, the numbers have nearly doubled.

HEMSI said with the surge in cases, they've also seen a surge in calls. 

"Last week we averaged somewhere around 156 to 157 transports per day. That's roughly a 5 to 6 percent increase over where we'd normally be," said HEMSI CEO Jon Howell.

As kids return to the classrooms, doctors encourage masks while the vaccine is not yet available for students under twelve.

"The schools that have put masks in place for school, I think they're in good shape. They are doing all the mitigating efforts that we know," said Madison County Medical Society President Dr. Aruna Arora.

"The two best things we have are to take the vaccine, that’s the only way out out of this," said Samz.

Huntsville Hospital and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center are teaming up to host a vaccination clinic tomorrow, from 9 a.m. to noon. 

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